Research ArticleGENETICS

Mitochondria-encoded genes contribute to evolution of heat and cold tolerance in yeast

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Science Advances  30 Jan 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 1, eaav1848
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav1848


Genetic analysis of phenotypic differences between species is typically limited to interfertile species. Here, we conducted a genome-wide noncomplementation screen to identify genes that contribute to a major difference in thermal growth profile between two reproductively isolated yeast species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces uvarum. The screen identified only a single nuclear-encoded gene with a moderate effect on heat tolerance, but, in contrast, revealed a large effect of mitochondrial DNA (mitotype) on both heat and cold tolerance. Recombinant mitotypes indicate that multiple genes contribute to thermal divergence, and we show that protein divergence in COX1 affects both heat and cold tolerance. Our results point to the yeast mitochondrial genome as an evolutionary hotspot for thermal divergence.

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