Inherited and environmentally induced differences in mutation frequencies between wild strains of Sordaria fimicola from 'Evolution Canyon'

Bernard C. Lamb, Muhammad Saleem, William Scott, Nina Thapa, Eviatar Nevo

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We have studied whether there is natural genetic variation for mutation frequencies, and whether any such variation is environment-related. Mutation frequencies differed significantly between wild strains of the fungus Sordaria fimicola isolated from a harsher or a milder microscale environment in 'Evolution Canyon,' Israel. Strains from the harsher, drier, south-facing slope had higher frequencies of new spontaneous mutations and of accumulated mutations than strains from the milder, lusher, north-facing slope. Collective total mutation frequencies over many loci for ascospore pigmentation were 2.3, 3.5 and 4.4% for three strains from the south-facing slope, and 0.9, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.3% for five strains from the north- facing slope. Some of this between-slope difference was inherited through two generations of selfing, with average spontaneous mutation frequencies of 1.9% for south-facing slope strains and 0.8% for north-facing slope strains. The remainder was caused by different frequencies of mutations arising in the original environments. There was also significant heritable genetic variation in mutation frequencies within slopes. Similar between-slope differences were found for ascospore germination-resistance to acriflavine, with much higher frequencies in strains from the south-facing slope. Such inherited variation provides a basis for natural selection for optimum mutation rates in each environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-99
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics

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