Enforcement of Postzygotic Species Boundaries in the Fungal Kingdom

J. Y. Chou, P. C. Hsu and J. Y. Leu,  Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews,  2022.

Understanding the molecular basis of speciation is a primary goal in evolutionary biology. The formation of the postzygotic reproductive isolation that causes hybrid dysfunction, thereby reducing gene flow between diverging populations, is crucial for speciation. Using various advanced approaches, including chromosome replacement, hybrid introgression and transcriptomics, population genomics, and experimental evolution, scientists have revealed multiple mechanisms involved in postzygotic barriers in the fungal kingdom. These results illuminate both unique and general features of fungal speciation. Our review summarizes experiments on fungi exploring how Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibility, killer meiotic drive, chromosome rearrangements, and antirecombination contribute to postzygotic reproductive isolation. We also discuss possible evolutionary forces underlying different reproductive isolation mechanisms and the potential roles of the evolutionary arms race under the Red Queen hypothesis and epigenetic divergence in speciation.

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