Extensive heterosis in growth of yeast hybrids is explained by a combination of genetic models

R. Shapira, T. Levy, S. Shaked, E. Fridman, L. David*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Heterosis, also known as hybrid vigor, is the superior performance of a heterozygous hybrid relative to its homozygous parents. Despite the scientific curiosity of this phenotypic phenomenon and its significance for food production in agriculture, its genetic basis is insufficiently understood. Studying heterosis in yeast can potentially yield insights into its genetic basis, can allow one to test the different hypotheses that have been proposed to explain the phenomenon and allows better understanding of how to take advantage of this phenomenon to enhance food production. We therefore crossed 16 parental yeast strains to form 120 yeast hybrids, and measured their growth rates under five environmental conditions. A considerable amount of dominant genetic variation was found in growth performance, and heterosis was measured in 35% of the hybrid-condition combinations. Despite previous reports of correlations between heterosis and measures of sequence divergence between parents, we detected no such relationship. We used several analyses to examine which genetic model might explain heterosis. We found that dominance complementation of recessive alleles, overdominant interactions within loci and epistatic interactions among loci each contribute to heterosis. We concluded that in yeast heterosis is a complex phenotype created by the combined contribution of different genetic interactions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)316-326
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - 11 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr Gianni Liti for generously providing the sequenced wild-type yeast strains, Prof Avigdor Cahaner for his advice on the variance components analysis of the diallel structure, Prof Joseph Hillel for his critical discussion on the manuscript and the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments who improved this paper. This research was supported by Israeli Science Foundation Grant Nos. 928/07 and 95/08 (Bikura program) to LD. SS was supported by an intramural grant from the Lejwa Fund of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Publisher Copyright:
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