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Fungal sex: The basidiomycota

Coelho, M.A., Bakkeren, G., Sun, S., Hood, M.E., Giraud, T. (2017). Fungal sex: The basidiomycota, 5(3),


© 2017 American Society for Microbiology. All rights reserved. Fungi of the Basidiomycota, representing major pathogen lineages and mushroom-forming species, exhibit diverse means to achieve sexual reproduction, with particularly varied mechanisms to determine compatibilities of haploid mating partners. For species that require mating between distinct genotypes, discrimination is usually based on both the reciprocal exchange of diffusible mating pheromones, rather than sexes, and the interactions of homeodomain protein signals after cell fusion. Both compatibility factors must be heterozygous in the product of mating, and genetic linkage relationships of the mating pheromone/receptor and homeodomain genes largely determine the complex patterns of mating-type variation. Independent segregation of the two compatibility factors can create four haploid mating genotypes from meiosis, referred to as tetrapolarity. This condition is thought to be ancestral to the basidiomycetes. Alternatively, cosegregation by linkage of the two mating factors, or in some cases the absence of the pheromone-based discrimination, yields only two mating types from meiosis, referred to as bipolarity. Several species are now known to have large and highly rearranged chromosomal regions linked to mating-type genes. At the population level, polymorphism of the mating-type genes is an exceptional aspect of some basidiomycete fungi, where selection under outcrossing for rare, intercompatible allelic variants is thought to be responsible for numbers of mating types that may reach several thousand. Advances in genome sequencing and assembly are yielding new insights by comparative approaches among and within basidiomycete species, with the promise to resolve the evolutionary origins and dynamics of mating compatibility genetics in this major eukaryotic lineage.

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