The cause of reproductive isolation between biological species is a major issue in the field of biology. Most explanations of hybrid sterility require either genetic incompatibilities between nascent species or gross physical imbalances between their chromosomes, such as rearrangements or ploidy changes. An alternative possibility is that genomes become incompatible at a molecular level, dependent on interactions between primary DNA sequences. The mismatch repair system has previously been shown to contribute to sterility in a hybrid between established yeast species by preventing successful meiotic crossing-over leading to aneuploidy. This system could also promote or reinforce the formation of new species in a similar manner, by making diverging genomes incompatible in meiosis. To test this possibility we crossed yeast strains of the same species but from diverse historical or geographic sources. We show that these crosses are partially sterile and present evidence that the mismatch repair system is largely responsible for this sterility.
- Mismatch repair