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Emergence of the Ug99 lineage of the wheat stem rust pathogen through somatic hybridisation

By Feng Li, Narayana Upadhyaya, Jana Sperschneider, Oadi Matny, Hoa Nguyen-Phuc, Rohit Mago, Castle Raley, Marisa Miller, Kevin Silverstein, Eva Henningsen, Cory Hirsch, Botma Visser, Zacharias Pretorius, Brian Steffenson, Benjamin Schwessinger, Peter Dodds, Melania Figueroa

Posted 04 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/692640

Parasexuality contributes to diversity and adaptive evolution of haploid (monokaryotic) fungi. However non-sexual genetic exchange mechanisms are not defined in dikaryotic fungi (containing two distinct haploid nuclei). Newly emerged strains of the wheat stem rust pathogen, Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt), such as Ug99, are a major threat to global food security. Here we show that Ug99 arose by somatic hybridisation and nuclear exchange between dikaryons. Fully haplotype-resolved genome assembly and DNA proximity analysis revealed that Ug99 shares one haploid nucleus genotype with a much older African lineage of Pgt, with no recombination or reassortment. Generation of genetic variation by nuclear exchange may favour the evolution of dikaryotism by providing an advantage over diploidy.

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