Comprehensive survey of condition-specific reproductive isolation reveals genetic incompatibility in yeast

Nat Commun. 2015 May 26;6:7214. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8214.


Genetic variation within a species could cause negative epistasis leading to reduced hybrid fitness and post-zygotic reproductive isolation. Recent studies in yeasts revealed chromosomal rearrangements as a major mechanism dampening intraspecific hybrid fertility on rich media. Here, by analysing a large number of Saccharomyces cerevisiae crosses on different culture conditions, we show environment-specific genetic incompatibility segregates readily within yeast and contributes to reproductive isolation. Over 24% (117 out of 481) of cases tested show potential epistasis, among which 6.7% (32 out of 481) are severe, with at least 20% of progeny loss on tested conditions. Based on the segregation patterns, we further characterize a two-locus Dobzhansky-Müller incompatibility case leading to offspring respiratory deficiency caused by nonsense mutation in a nuclear-encoding mitochondrial gene and tRNA suppressor. We provide evidence that this precise configuration could be adaptive in fluctuating environments, highlighting the role of ecological selection in the onset of genetic incompatibility and reproductive isolation in yeast.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / physiology
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Genes, Suppressor
  • Genetic Fitness
  • Reproductive Isolation*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / physiology
  • Stress, Physiological


  • BEM2 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins

Associated data

  • SRA/PRJNA280047
  • SRA/SRP056771