The effects of environmental and genetic factors on the germination of basidiospores in the Cryptococcus gattii species complex
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Natural and artificial hybridization has been frequently reported among divergent lineages within and between the two closely related human pathogenic fungi Cryptococcus gattii species complex and Cryptococcus neoformans species complex. However, the biological effects of such hybridization are not well known. Here we used five strains of the C. neoformans species complex and twelve strains of the C. gattii species complex to investigate the potential effects of selected environmental and genetic factors on the germination of their basidiospores from 29 crosses. We found that the germination rates varied widely among crosses and environmental conditions, ranging from 0% to 98%. Overall, the two examined media showed relatively little difference on spore germination while temperature effects were notable, with the high temperature (37 °C) having an overall deleterious effect on spore germination. Within the C. gattii species complex, one intra-lineage VGIII × VGIII cross had the highest germination rates among all crosses at all six tested environmental conditions. Our analyses indicate significant genetic, environmental, and genotype-environment interaction effects on the germination of basidiospores within the C. gattii species complex.
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