Karyotype polymorphism correlates with intraspecific infertility in the homothallic ascomycete Sordaria macrospora


Kück U. Lehrstuhl für Allgemeine und Molekulare Botanik, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany. Tel.: + 49 234 3226212; fax: + 49 234 3214184; e-mail: ulrich.kueck@ruhr-uni-bochum.de


The homothallic fungus Sordaria macrospora produces perithecia with meiotically derived ascospores. In most cases, intraspecies crosses between strains from different culture collections generate fertile hybrid perithecia in the contact zone of two mycelia. However, in some of these crosses we observed a significant decrease in the fertility of the hybrid perithecia when strains of different origin were used for mating. Since we assumed that chromosome variability between the culture collection strains might contribute to this reduction in fertility, we performed pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. In the course of our study, we were able to identify two major groups of electrophoretic karyotypes in S. macrospora culture collection strains. A quantitative analysis revealed that polymorphic karyotypes contribute to a reduction of fertility in forced crosses between strains carrying differently sized chromosomes. The observed intraspecific chromosome length polymorphism might have consequences on the speciation process of a homothallic fungus capable of sexual but not of asexual spore formation.