Experimental demonstration of the benefits of somatic fusion and the consequences for allorecognition
Bastiaans, E. ; Debets, A.J.M. ; Aanen, D.K. - \ 2015
multicellularity - social evolution - kin selection - ascomycete fungi - heterokaryon incompatibility
Allorecognition, the ability to distinguish ‘self’ from ‘non-self’ based on allelic differences at allorecognition loci, is common in all domains of life. Allorecognition restricts the opportunities for social parasitism, and is therefore crucial for the evolution of cooperation. However, the maintenance of allorecognition diversity provides a paradox. If allorecognition is costly relative to cooperation, common alleles will be favored. Thus, the cost of allorecognition may reduce the genetic variation upon which allorecognition crucially relies, a prediction now known as ‘Crozier's paradox’. We establish the relative costs of allorecognition, and their consequences for the short-term evolution of recognition labels theoretically predicted by Crozier. We use fusion among colonies of the fungus Neurospora crassa, regulated by highly variable allorecognition genes, as an experimental model system. We demonstrate that fusion among colonies is mutually beneficial, relative to absence of fusion upon allorecognition. This benefit is due not only to absence of mutual antagonism, which occurs upon allorecognition, but also to an increase in colony size per se. We then experimentally demonstrate that the benefit of fusion selects against allorecognition diversity, as predicted by Crozier. We discuss what maintains allorecognition diversity.
Selection against somatic parasitism can maintain allorecognition in fungi
Czaran, T. ; Hoekstra, R.F. ; Aanen, D.K. - \ 2014
Fungal Genetics and Biology 73 (2014). - ISSN 1087-1845 - p. 128 - 137.
vegetative incompatibility - neurospora-crassa - kin discrimination - filamentous fungi - self-recognition - botryllus-schlosseri - marine-invertebrates - ascomycete fungi - cell parasitism - genetic-control
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.