A genome-wide analysis reveals no nuclear dobzhansky-muller pairs of determinants of speciation between S. cerevisiae and S. paradoxus, but suggests more complex incompatibilities

PLoS Genet. 2010 Jul 29;6(7):e1001038. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001038.


The Dobzhansky-Muller (D-M) model of speciation by genic incompatibility is widely accepted as the primary cause of interspecific postzygotic isolation. Since the introduction of this model, there have been theoretical and experimental data supporting the existence of such incompatibilities. However, speciation genes have been largely elusive, with only a handful of candidate genes identified in a few organisms. The Saccharomyces sensu stricto yeasts, which have small genomes and can mate interspecifically to produce sterile hybrids, are thus an ideal model for studying postzygotic isolation. Among them, only a single D-M pair, comprising a mitochondrially targeted product of a nuclear gene and a mitochondrially encoded locus, has been found. Thus far, no D-M pair of nuclear genes has been identified between any sensu stricto yeasts. We report here the first detailed genome-wide analysis of rare meiotic products from an otherwise sterile hybrid and show that no classic D-M pairs of speciation genes exist between the nuclear genomes of the closely related yeasts S. cerevisiae and S. paradoxus. Instead, our analyses suggest that more complex interactions, likely involving multiple loci having weak effects, may be responsible for their post-zygotic separation. The lack of a nuclear encoded classic D-M pair between these two yeasts, yet the existence of multiple loci that may each exert a small effect through complex interactions suggests that initial speciation events might not always be mediated by D-M pairs. An alternative explanation may be that the accumulation of polymorphisms leads to gamete inviability due to the activities of anti-recombination mechanisms and/or incompatibilities between the species' transcriptional and metabolic networks, with no single pair at least initially being responsible for the incompatibility. After such a speciation event, it is possible that one or more D-M pairs might subsequently arise following isolation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Speciation*
  • Genome, Fungal
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Mitochondria
  • Models, Genetic
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Saccharomyces / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae