Genomics of speciation: dissecting mechanisms of reproductive barriers in fungi

The genomic mechanisms shaping the diversity of fungal species are largely unknown. We use genomic approaches in combination with in vitro experiments to investigate fungal speciation

Trichaptum abietinum growing on dead wood

About the project

Species is the basic biological unit of classifying nature. What we know about speciation mechanisms, the processes that have generated the diversity of species on earth, are largely derived from studies of animals and plants. Far less is known about how species evolve in microorganisms, such as fungi. Although the fungal kingdom is assumed to be one of the most species-rich eukaryotic groups, with wide economic and ecological importance. Fungi have several unique features in their life cycles and life history traits, with their long-lived haploid and dikaryotic phase, high dispersal ability, and absence of obvious behaviour, they may differ from animals and plants in speciation mechanisms.

To obtain knowledge on how fungal species evolve, we will analyse the evolution of reproductive barriers in the genus Trichaptum (Polyporales, Basidiomycota) and determine where the break-down of the life cycle occurs. Trichaptum is a widespread genus decaying dead wood in boreal and temperate regions. In the purplepore bracket fungus (Trichaptum abietinum) there are reproductive barriers between some populations, even if they are closely related.

In this project we will use a combined analyses of genome data and physiological experiments to investigate genomic barriers to reproduction, e.g. genomic rearrangements, transposable elements, and copy number variation. We will produce genomic data of several populations of purplepore bracket fungus from several geographic localities to see which genomic barriers have evolved between individuals that cannot mate. We will also sequence populations of each group to investigate when the barriers arose, divergence between populations and which genetic functions that has been important for the evolution of reproductive barriers. Lastly, we will investigate at what step in the life cycle reproductive barriers evolves, and how the unique life cycle alters the evolution of reproductive barriers compared to other organisms.


This is a FRIPRO Young Research Talent project, funded by the Research Council of Norway, project number 274337


We use comparative and population genomic approaches to investigate evolutionary mechanisms shaping fungal diversity. In addition we collect samples in the field, culture the fungi in vitro and perform experiments of reproductive barriers and fitness.


  • Lu Dabao Sun; Håvard Kauserud; Sundy Maurice; David Peris; Mark Ravinet; Jørn Henrik Sønstebø & Inger Skrede (2020). Population genomics of Trichaptum abietinum – a window into fungal speciation.
  • David Peris; William G Alexander; Kaitlin Fisher; Ryan Victoria Moriarty; Mira G Basuino; Emily J Ubbelohde; Lainy Ramírez Aroca; Laura Pérez Través; Eladio Barrio; Amparo Querol; Russel L Wrobel & Chris Todd Hittinger (2020). Combining and improving phenotypic traits through the generation of synthetic two- and six-species yeast hybrids.
  • Jaqueline Hess; Sudhagar Balasundaram; Reneè Isabel Bakkemo; Elodie Drula; Bernard Henrissat; Nils Högberg; Daniel C. Eastwood & Inger Skrede (2020). Niche differentiation underlies evolution of the wood decay machinery in the invasive fungus Serpula lacrymans.
  • David Peris; William G Alexander; Kaitlin Fisher; Ryan Victoria Moriarty; Mira G Basuino; Emily J Ubbelohde; Russell L Wrobel & Chris Todd Hittinger (2020). Synthetic hybrids of six yeast species.
  • Inger Skrede (2019). How to decompose a house? Comparative and population genomic analyses of the dry rot fungus.
  • Inger Skrede; Jaqueline Hess; Jørn Henrik Sønstebø; Sundy Ursula Mary Jane Maurice; Daniel C. Eastwood & Håvard Kauserud (2018). How to decompose a house? Comparative and population genomic analyses of the dry rot fungus.

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Published Mar. 21, 2019 3:37 PM - Last modified Sep. 5, 2019 4:35 PM