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Breaking a species barrier by enabling hybrid recombination

Cite this dataset

Bozdag, G. Ozan et al. (2021). Breaking a species barrier by enabling hybrid recombination [Dataset]. Dryad.


Hybrid sterility maintains reproductive isolation between species by preventing them from exchanging genetic material. Anti-recombination can contribute to hybrid sterility when different species’ chromosome sequences are too diverged to cross-over efficiently during hybrid meiosis, resulting in chromosome mis-segregation and aneuploidy. The genome sequences of the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces paradoxus have diverged by about 12% and their hybrids are sexually sterile: nearly all of their gametes are aneuploid and inviable. Previous methods to increase hybrid yeast fertility have targetted the anti-recombination machinery, enhancing meiotic crossing over but also having counteracting detrimental effects on gamete viability due to increased mutagenesis and ectopic recombination. Therefore the role of anti-recombination has not been fully revealed, and it is often dismissed as a minor player in speciation. By repressing two genes, SGS1 and MSH2, specifically during meiosis, whilst maintaining their mitotic expression we were able to increase hybrid fertility 70-fold, to the level of non-hybrid crosses, confirming that anti-recombination is the principal cause of hybrid sterility. Breaking this species barrier allows us to generate, for the first time, viable euploid gametes containing recombinant hybrid genomes from these two highly diverged parent species. 


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Leverhulme Trust

Royal Society

European Molecular Biology Organization