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The impact of ploidy on adaptation is a central issue in evolutionary biology. While many eukaryotic organisms exist as diploids, with two sets of gametic genomes residing in the same nucleus, most basidiomycete fungi exist as dikaryons in which the two genomes exist in separate nuclei that are physically paired and that divide in a coordinated manner during hyphal extension. To determine if haploid monokaryotic and dikaryotic mycelia adapt to novel environments under natural selection, we serially transferred replicate populations of each ploidy state on minimal medium for 18 months (approximately 13,000 generations). Dikaryotic mycelia responded to selection with increases in growth rate, while haploid monokaryotic mycelia did not. To determine if the haploid components of the dikaryon adapt reciprocally to one another's presence over time, we recovered the intact haploid components of dikaryotic mycelia at different time points (without meiosis) and mated them with nuclei of different evolutionary histories. We found evidence for coadaptation between nuclei in one dikaryotic line, in which a dominant deleterious mutation in one nucleus was followed by a compensatory mutation in the other nucleus; the mutant nuclei that evolved together had the best overall fitness. In other lines, nuclei had equal or higher fitness when paired with nuclei of other histories, indicating a heterozygote advantage. To determine if genetic exchange occurs between the two nuclei of a dikaryon, we developed a 24-locus genotyping system based on single nucleotide polymorphisms to monitor somatic exchange. We observed genetic exchange and recombination between the nuclei of several different dikaryons, resulting in genotypic variation in these mitotic cell lineages.
Copyright 2004 Genetics Society of America