Gene exchange between two divergent species of the fungal human pathogen, Coccidioides

Colin S. Maxwell, Kathleen Mattox, David A. Turissini, Marcus M. Teixeira, Bridget M. Barker, Daniel R. Matute

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The fungal genus Coccidioides is composed of two species, Coccidioides immitis and Coccidioides posadasii. These two species are the causal agents of coccidioidomycosis, a pulmonary disease also known as valley fever. The two species are thought to have shared genetic material due to gene exchange in spite of their long divergence. To quantify the magnitude of shared ancestry between them, we analyzed the genomes of a population sample from each species. Next, we inferred what is the expected size of shared haplotypes that might be inherited from the last common ancestor of the two species and find a cutoff to find what haplotypes have conclusively been exchanged between species. Finally, we precisely identified the breakpoints of the haplotypes that have crossed the species boundary and measure the allele frequency of each introgression in this sample. We find that introgressions are not uniformly distributed across the genome. Most, but not all, of the introgressions segregate at low frequency. Our results show that divergent species can share alleles, that species boundaries can be porous, and highlight the need for a systematic exploration of gene exchange in fungal species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-58
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Fungi
  • gene flow
  • introgression
  • speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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