ISME J 13 (3) 780-788 [2019-03-00; online 2018-11-09]
Trade-offs among traits influencing fitness are predicted by life history theory because resources allocated to one function are unavailable to another. Here we examine the relationship between two such traits, asexual reproduction and growth rate, in the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa, where shared genetic and physiological factors and a source-sink energetic relationship between growth and reproduction may constrain the evolution of these traits. To test growth-reproduction relationships in this species, we independently selected on mycelial growth rate or asexual spore production in a heterogeneous lab-derived population and evaluated the response of the non-selected traits. Combined with phenotypes for the 20 wild strains used to produce the heterogeneous population and the genome-wide genotypes of 468 strains, these data show that growth and reproduction are highly plastic in N. crassa and do not trade off either among wild strains or after laboratory selection in two environments. Rather, we find no predictable growth-reproduction relationship in the environments tested, indicating an effective absence of genetic constraint between these traits. Our results suggest that growth rate and asexual reproduction may not respond predictably to environmental change and suggest that reliance on a single trait as a proxy for fitness in fungal studies may be inadvisable.