Revisiting Mortimer’s Genome Renewal Hypothesis: Heterozygosity, Homothallism, and the Potential for Adaptation in Yeast

  • Paul M. MagweneEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 781)


In diploid organisms, the frequency and nature of sexual cycles have a major impact on genome-wide patterns of heterozygosity. Recent population genomic surveys in the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, have revealed surprising levels of genomic heterozygosity in what has been traditionally considered a highly inbred organism. I review evidence and hypotheses regarding the generation, maintenance, and evolutionary consequences of genomic heterozygosity in S. cerevisiae. I propose that high levels of heterozygosity in S. cerevisiae, arising from population admixture due to human domestication, coupled with selfing during rare sexual cycles, can facilitate rapid adaptation to novel environments.


Heterozygosity Adaptation Mating systems Domestication Admixture 



I thank Helen Murphy and Cliff Zeyl for discussions and feedback, as well as two anonymous reviewers for their critical comments and suggestions on the manuscript. Ludo Muller and John McCusker kindly provided data on spore viability and heterozygosity. The work was supported in part by awards from NSF (MCB-0614959) and NIH (P50GM081883-01).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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