Q: can two fungal species mate and reproduce new species?

Brett Tyler bmtyler at UCDAVIS.EDU
Mon Nov 27 19:36:22 EST 1995

Among plants, interspecific hybridization is certainly common.  Modern
wheat, which is a hybrid of three different "primitive" wheat species, is
a well-known example.  Smoking tobacco, which is a hybrid of two ancestral
tobacco species is another.  There are many other examples.

For a couple of examples from the fungal world see Ersek et al
Phytopathology, 85, 1343-1347,1995 and references therein.  I am sure there
are other examples too, though I doubt that a systematic study of the
limitations has been conducted.

As to whether an interspecies hybrid constitutes a new species, it depends
on your definition of a species.

>I've been told by a horticulturist that it's possible for two
>different fungal species to mate and reproduce a third
>species.  Is this really possible?  What would be the
>limitations--as in, would the two species have to be closely
>related?  Would the offspring fungus be able to reproduce
>itself--or would it be sterile?  What kind of spore-dispersal
>mechanisms would be dominant and passed on to the
>offspring fungus in relation to other spore-dispersal mechanisms?
>In the two books (_not_ ID books) I have about fungi and their
>spores, nothing like this is mentioned.  So, is this completely
>speculative, or is this possible?
>    - Tara K. Harper
>         until at teleport.com
>/   Even a thought   /
>/     Even a possibility can shatter us and transform us   /
>/                    - Nietzsche   /

Brett Tyler
Department of Plant Pathology
University of California, Davis
bmtyler at ucdavis.edu

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