Fungi display a large diversity in genome size and complexity, variation that is often considered to be adaptive. But because non-adaptive processes can also have important consequences on the features of genomes, we investigated the relationship of genetic drift and genome size in the phylum Ascomycota using multiple indicators of genetic drift. We detected a complex relationship between genetic drift and genome size in fungi: genetic drift is associated with genome expansion on broad evolutionary time scales, as hypothesized for other eukaryotes; but within subphyla over smaller time scales, the opposite trend is observed. Moreover, fungi and bacteria display similar patterns of genome degradation that are associated with initial effects of genetic drift. We conclude that changes in genome size within Ascomycota have occurred using two different routes: large-scale genome expansions are catalyzed by increasing drift as predicted by the mutation-hazard model of genome evolution, and small-scale modifications in genome size are independent of drift.
Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL