BACKGROUND: Nucleo-mitochondrial interactions, particularly those determining the primary divergence of biological species, can be studied by means of xenomitochondrial cybrids, which are cells where the original mitochondria are substituted by their counterparts from related species. Saccharomyces cerevisiae cybrids are prepared simply by the mating of the ρ0 strain with impaired karyogamy and germinating spores from other Saccharomyces species and fall into three categories. Cybrids with compatible mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from Saccharomyces paradoxus CBS 432 and Saccharomyces cariocanus CBS 7994 are metabolically and genetically similar to cybrids containing mtDNA from various S. cerevisiae. Cybrids with mtDNA from other S. paradoxus strains, S. cariocanus, Saccharomyces kudriavzevii, and Saccharomyces mikatae require a period of adaptation to establish efficient oxidative phosphorylation. They exhibit a temperature-sensitive phenotype, slower growth rate on a non-fermentable carbon source and a long lag phase after the shift from glucose. Their decreased respiration capacity and reduced cytochrome aa3 content is associated with the inefficient splicing of cox1I3β, the intron found in all Saccharomyces species but not in S. cerevisiae. The splicing defect is compensated in cybrids by nuclear gain-of-function and can be alternatively suppressed by overexpression of MRP13 gene for mitochondrial ribosomal protein or the MRS2, MRS3, and MRS4 genes involved in intron splicing. S. cerevisiae with Saccharomyces bayanus mtDNA is unable to respire and the growth on ethanol–glycerol can be restored only after mating to some mit− strains. The nucleo-mitochondrial compatibility limit of S. cerevisiae and other Saccharomyces was set between S. kudriavzevii and S. bayanus at the divergence from S. cerevisiae about 15 MYA. The MRS1-cox1 S. cerevisiae/S. paradoxus cytonuclear Dobzhansky–Muller pair has a neglible impact on the separation of species since its imperfection is compensated for by gain-of-function mutation.
Sulo, P., Špírek, M., Poláková, S., & Jatzová, K. (2015). Post-zygotic sterility and cytonuclear compatibility limits in S. cerevisiae xenomitochondrial cybrids. Frontiers in Genetics, 5, 454.