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Keywords:

  • Basidiomycota;
  • bifactorial (tetrapolar) system;
  • frequency-dependent selection;
  • mating-type loci;
  • self-incompatibility;
  • sex;
  • unifactorial (bipolar) system

Self-incompatibility (SI), a reproductive system broadly present in plants, chordates, fungi, and protists, might be controlled by one or several multiallelic loci. How a transition in the number of SI loci can occur and the consequences of such events for the population's genetics and dynamics have not been studied theoretically. Here, we provide analytical descriptions of two transition mechanisms: linkage of the two SI loci (scenario 1) and the loss of function of one incompatibility gene within a mating type of a population with two SI loci (scenario 2). We show that invasion of populations by the new mating type form depends on whether the fitness of the new type is lowered, and on the allelic diversity of the SI loci and the recombination between the two SI loci in the starting population. Moreover, under scenario 1, it also depends on the frequency of the SI alleles that became linked. We demonstrate that, following invasion, complete transitions in the reproductive system occurs under scenario 2 and is predicted only for small populations under scenario 1. Interestingly, such events are associated with a drastic reduction in mating type number.