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Title: Mitochondrial Recombination Reveals Mito-Mito Epistasis in Yeast
enetic variation in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) provides adaptive potential although the underlying genetic architecture of fitness components within mtDNAs is not known. To dissect functional variation within mtDNAs, we first identified naturally occurring mtDNAs that conferred high or low fitness in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by comparing growth in strains containing identical nuclear genotypes but different mtDNAs. During respiratory growth under temperature and oxidative stress conditions, mitotype effects were largely independent of nuclear genotypes even in the presence of mitonuclear interactions. Recombinant mtDNAs were generated to determine fitness components within high and low fitness mtDNAs. Based on phenotypic distributions of isogenic strains containing recombinant mtDNAs, we found that multiple loci contributed to mitotype fitness differences. These mitochondrial loci interacted in epistatic, non-additive ways in certain environmental conditions. Mito-mito epistasis (i.e. non-additive interactions between mitochondrial loci) influenced fitness in progeny from 4 different crosses, suggesting that mito-mito epistasis is a widespread phenomenon in yeast and other systems with recombining mtDNAs. Furthermore, we found that interruption of coadapted mito-mito interactions produced recombinant mtDNAs with lower fitness. Our results demonstrate that mito-mito epistasis results in functional variation through mitochondrial recombination in fungi, providing modes for adaptive evolution and the generation of mito-mito incompatibilities.  more » « less
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