One of the major challenges in characterizing eukaryotic genetic diversity is the mapping of phenotypes that are the cumulative effect of multiple alleles. We have investigated tolerance of oxidative stress in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a trait showing phenotypic variation in the population. Initial crosses identified that this is a quantitative trait. Microorganisms experience oxidative stress in many environments, including during infection of higher eukaryotes. Natural variation in oxidative stress tolerance is an important aspect of response to oxidative stress exerted by the human immune system and an important trait in microbial pathogens. A clinical isolate of the usually benign yeast S. cerevisiae was found to survive oxidative stress significantly better than the laboratory strain. We investigated the genetic basis of increased peroxide survival by crossing those strains, phenotyping 1500 segregants, and genotyping of high-survival segregants by hybridization of bulk and single segregant DNA to microarrays. This effort has led to the identification of an allele of the transcription factor Rds2 as contributing to stress response. Rds2 has not previously been associated with the survival of oxidative stress. The identification of its role in the oxidative stress response here is an example of a specific trait that appears to be beneficial to Saccharomyces cerevisiae when growing as a pathogen. Understanding the role of this fungal-specific transcription factor in pathogenicity will be important in deciphering how fungi infect and colonize the human host and could eventually lead to a novel drug target.
Diezmann, S., & Dietrich, F. S. (2011). Oxidative stress survival in a clinical Saccharomyces cerevisiae isolate is influenced by a major quantitative trait nucleotide. Genetics, 188(3), 709-722. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.111.128256