Fusion of two divergent fungal individuals led to the recent emergence of a unique widespread pathogen species (Abstract only)
Hybridization occurs when two different species manage to interbreed. While this generally leads to infertile, week and normally short-lived offspring in animals, it is a regular evolutionary happening in plants and fungi.
|Isolates of Zymoseptoria pseudotritici|
In this case, the scientists looked at variations of Zymoseptoria pseudotritici and found what they called "peculiar diversity patterns." They found that segments of the genome from regional samplings would go for large regions of matching base pairs, intermittent with equally long regions of variation.
This type of genome pattern is in line with a hybrid speciation event, and with further analysis of the variations the team concluded that Z. pseudotritici arose approximately 380 sexual generations.
This kind of study goes to show that hybridization of potentially dangerous(especially in agribusiness) fungi can happen very quickly on a evolutionary time scale. We have to make sure that in a global society, where potentially infested plants can be traded worldwide, we take into account the fact that such hybrids could quickly arise and devastate crop supplies.
For more on this study i give you the coverage from Science Daily: Two Species Fused to Give Rise to Plant Pest a Few Hundred Years Ago
Photo credit: Janine Haueisen