Hou J, Friedrich A, de Montigny J, Schacherer J

Curr Biol. 2014 May 19;24(10):1153-9

Understanding the molecular basis of how reproductive isolation evolves between individuals from the same species offers valuable insight into patterns of genetic differentiation as well as the onset of speciation [1, 2]. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae constitutes an ideal model partly due to its vast ecological range, high level of genetic diversity [3-6], and laboratory-amendable sexual reproduction. Between S. cerevisiae and its sibling species in the Saccharomyces sensu stricto complex, reproductive isolation acts postzygotically and could be attributed to chromosomalrearrangements [7], cytonuclear incompatibility [8, 9], and antirecombination [10, 11], although the implication of these mechanisms at the incipient stage of speciation remains unclear due to further divergence in the nascent species. Recently, several studies assessed the onset of intraspecificreproductive isolation in S. cerevisiae by evaluating the effect of the mismatch repair system [12-14] or by fostering incipient speciation using the same initial genetic background [15-18]. Nevertheless, the overall genetic diversity within this species was largely overlooked, and no systematic evaluation has been performed. Here, we carried out the first species-wide survey for postzygotic reproductive isolation in S. cerevisiae. We crossed 60 natural isolates sampled from diverse niches with the reference strain S288c and identified 16 cases of reproductive isolation with reduced offspring viabilities ranging from 44% to 86%. Using different mapping strategies, we identified reciprocal translocations in a large fraction of all isolates surveyed, indicating that large-scale chromosomal rearrangements might play a major role in the onset of reproductive isolation in this species.