The fitness of filamentous fungi

Trends Microbiol. 2002 Oct;10(10):474-81. doi: 10.1016/s0966-842x(02)02447-2.


Fitness is a common currency in comparative biology. Without data on fitness, hypotheses about the adaptive significance of phenotypes or basic mechanisms of evolution, for example natural selection, remain speculative. Experiments with fungi can address questions specific to fungi or questions with a broader significance. Fungi can challenge the generality of fundamental evolutionary principles, yet there are no standard measures of fungal fitness. We argue that focusing on a single aspect of a complex life cycle, or a single measure of fitness (e.g. the number of asexual spores) is appropriate. Choosing which aspect of fitness to measure can be facilitated by an understanding of how fitness measures are correlated. Choices can also be based on the ecology of a species, for example whether a fungus is semelparous and reproduces once, or iteroparous and reproduces multiple times.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Fungi / cytology*
  • Fungi / growth & development*
  • Models, Biological
  • Population Dynamics
  • Reproduction
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Spores, Fungal