Selection against somatic parasitism can maintain allorecognition in fungi

T. Czaran, R.F. Hoekstra, D.K. Aanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fusion between multicellular individuals is possible in many organisms with modular, indeterminate growth, such as marine invertebrates and fungi. Although fusion may provide various benefits, fusion usually is restricted to close relatives by allorecognition, also called heterokaryon or somatic incompatibility in fungi. A possible selective explanation for allorecognition is protection against somatic parasites. Such mutants contribute less to colony functions but more to reproduction. However, previous models testing this idea have failed to explain the high diversity of allorecognition alleles in nature. These models did not, however, consider the possible role of spatial structure. We model the joint evolution of allorecognition and somatic parasitism in a multicellular organism resembling an asexual ascomycete fungus in a spatially explicit simulation. In a 1000-by-1000 grid, neighbouring individuals can fuse, but only if they have the same allotype. Fusion with a parasitic individual decreases the total reproductive output of the fused individuals, but the parasite compensates for this individual-level fitness reduction by a disproportional share of the offspring. Allorecognition prevents the invasion of somatic parasites, and vice versa, mutation towards somatic parasitism provides the selective conditions for extensive allorecognition diversity. On the one hand, if allorecognition diversity did not build up fast enough, somatic parasites went to fixation; conversely, once parasites had gone to fixation no allorecognition diversity built up. On the other hand, the mere threat of parasitism could select for high allorecognition diversity, preventing invasion of somatic parasites. Moderate population viscosity combined with weak global dispersal was optimal for the joint evolution of allorecognition and protection against parasitism. Our results are consistent with the widespread occurrence of allorecognition in fungi and the low degree of somatic parasitism. We discuss the implications of our results for allorecognition in other organism groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-137
JournalFungal Genetics and Biology
Volume73
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • vegetative incompatibility
  • neurospora-crassa
  • kin discrimination
  • filamentous fungi
  • self-recognition
  • botryllus-schlosseri
  • marine-invertebrates
  • ascomycete fungi
  • cell parasitism
  • genetic-control

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