Nat Ecol Evol 6 (7) 910-923 [2022-07-00; online 2022-05-12]
Allorecognition, the capacity to discriminate self from conspecific non-self, is a ubiquitous organismal feature typically governed by genes evolving under balancing selection. Here, we show that in the fungus Podospora anserina, allorecognition loci controlling vegetative incompatibility (het genes), define two reproductively isolated groups through pleiotropic effects on sexual compatibility. These two groups emerge from the antagonistic interactions of the unlinked loci het-r (encoding a NOD-like receptor) and het-v (encoding a methyltransferase and an MLKL/HeLo domain protein). Using a combination of genetic and ecological data, supported by simulations, we provide a concrete and molecularly defined example whereby the origin and coexistence of reproductively isolated groups in sympatry is driven by pleiotropic genes under balancing selection.