Reproductive isolation and phylogenetic divergence in Neurospora: comparing methods of species recognition in a model eukaryote

Evolution. 2003 Dec;57(12):2721-41. doi: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2003.tb01515.x.


We critically examined methods for recognizing species in the model filamentous fungal genus Neurospora by comparing traditional biological species recognition (BSR) with more comprehensive applications of both BSR and phylogenetic species recognition (PSR). Comprehensive BSR was applied to a set of 73 individuals by performing extensive crossing experiments and delineating biological species based on patterns of reproductive success. Within what were originally considered two species, N. crassa and N. intermedia, we recognized four reproductively isolated biological species. In a concurrent study (Dettman et al. 2003), we used genealogical concordance of four independent nuclear loci to recognize phylogenetic species in Neurospora. Overall, the groups of individuals identified as species were similar whether recognized by reproductive success or by phylogenetic criteria, and increased genetic distance between parents was associated with decreased reproductive success of crosses, suggesting that PSR using genealogical concordance can be used to reliably recognize species in organisms that are not candidates for BSR. In one case, two phylogenetic species were recognized as a single biological species, indicating that significant phylogenetic divergence preceded the development of reproductive isolation. However, multiple biological species were never recognized as a single phylogenetic species. Each of the putative N. crassa x N. intermedia hybrids included in this study was confidently assigned to a single species, using both PSR and BSR. As such, no evidence for a history of hybridization in nature among Neurospora species was observed. By performing reciprocal mating tests, we found that mating type, parental role, and species identity of parental individuals could all influence the reproductive success of matings. We also observed sympatry-associated sexual dysfunction in interspecific crosses, which was consistent with the existence of reinforcement mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Geography
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Neurospora / genetics*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Species Specificity