Sex determination in the first-described sexual fungus.
ABSTRACT: The original report of sex in fungi dates 2 centuries ago to the species Syzygites megalocarpus (Mucoromycotina). The organism was subsequently used in 1904 to represent self-fertile homothallic species when the concepts of heterothallism and homothallism were developed for the fungal kingdom. In this study, two putative sex/MAT loci were identified in individual strains of S. megalocarpus, accounting for its homothallic behavior. The strains encode both of the high-mobility-group domain-containing proteins, SexM and SexP, flanked by RNA helicase and glutathione oxidoreductase genes that are found adjacent to the mating-type loci in other Mucoromycotina species. The presence of pseudogenes and the arrangement of genes suggest that the origin of homothallism in this species is from a heterothallic relative, obtained via a chromosomal rearrangement to switch two alleles into two separated loci within a single genetic background. Similar events have given rise to homothallic species from heterothallic species in ascomycete fungi, demonstrating that conserved forces shape the evolution of sex determination and speciation in highly diverged fungi.
Project description:The Rhizopus oryzae species complex is a group of zygomycete fungi that are common, cosmopolitan saprotrophs. Some strains are used beneficially for production of Asian fermented foods but they can also act as opportunistic human pathogens. Although R. oryzae reportedly has a heterothallic (+/-) mating system, most strains have not been observed to undergo sexual reproduction and the genetic structure of its mating locus has not been characterized. Here we report on the mating behavior and genetic structure of the mating locus for 54 isolates of the R. oryzae complex. All 54 strains have a mating locus similar in overall organization to Phycomyces blakesleeanus and Mucor circinelloides (Mucoromycotina, Zygomycota). In all of these fungi, the minus (-) allele features the SexM high mobility group (HMG) gene flanked by an RNA helicase gene and a TP transporter gene (TPT). Within the R. oryzae complex, the plus (+) mating allele includes an inserted region that codes for a BTB/POZ domain gene and the SexP HMG gene. Phylogenetic analyses of multiple genes, including the mating loci (HMG, TPT, RNA helicase), ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 rDNA, RPB2, and LDH genes, identified two distinct groups of strains. These correspond to previously described sibling species R. oryzae sensu stricto and R. delemar. Within each species, discordant gene phylogenies among multiple loci suggest an outcrossing population structure. The hypothesis of random-mating is also supported by a 50:50 ratio of plus and minus mating types in both cryptic species. When crossed with tester strains of the opposite mating type, most isolates of R. delemar failed to produce zygospores, while isolates of R. oryzae produced sterile zygospores. In spite of the reluctance of most strains to mate in vitro, the conserved sex locus structure and evidence for outcrossing suggest that a normal sexual cycle occurs in both species.
Project description:In most fungal ascomycetes, mating is controlled by a single locus (MAT). Fungi requiring a partner to mate are heterothallic (self-sterile); those not requiring a partner are homothallic (self-fertile). Structural analyses of MAT sequences from homothallic and heterothallic Cochliobolus species support the hypothesis that heterothallism is ancestral. Homothallic species carry both MAT genes in a single nucleus, usually closely linked or fused, in contrast to heterothallic species, which have alternate MAT genes in different nuclei. The structural organization of MAT from all heterothallic species examined is highly conserved; in contrast, the organization of MAT in each homothallic species is unique. The mechanism of conversion from heterothallism to homothallism is a recombination event between islands of identity in otherwise dissimilar MAT sequences. Expression of a fused MAT gene from a homothallic species confers self-fertility on a MAT-null strain of a heterothallic species, suggesting that MAT alone is sufficient to change reproductive life style.
Project description:Mucor circinelloides is a zygomycete fungus and an emerging opportunistic pathogen in immunocompromised patients, especially transplant recipients and in some cases otherwise healthy individuals. We have discovered a novel example of size dimorphism linked to virulence. M. circinelloides is a heterothallic fungus: (+) sex allele encodes SexP and (-) sex allele SexM, both of which are HMG domain protein sex determinants. M. circinelloides f. lusitanicus (Mcl) (-) mating type isolates produce larger asexual sporangiospores that are more virulent in the wax moth host compared to (+) isolates that produce smaller less virulent sporangiospores. The larger sporangiospores germinate inside and lyse macrophages, whereas the smaller sporangiospores do not. sexM? mutants are sterile and still produce larger virulent sporangiospores, suggesting that either the sex locus is not involved in virulence/spore size or the sexP allele plays an inhibitory role. Phylogenetic analysis supports that at least three extant subspecies populate the M. circinelloides complex in nature: Mcl, M. circinelloides f. griseocyanus, and M. circinelloides f. circinelloides (Mcc). Mcc was found to be more prevalent among clinical Mucor isolates, and more virulent than Mcl in a diabetic murine model in contrast to the wax moth host. The M. circinelloides sex locus encodes an HMG domain protein (SexP for plus and SexM for minus mating types) flanked by genes encoding triose phosphate transporter (TPT) and RNA helicase homologs. The borders of the sex locus between the three subspecies differ: the Mcg sex locus includes the promoters of both the TPT and the RNA helicase genes, whereas the Mcl and Mcc sex locus includes only the TPT gene promoter. Mating between subspecies was restricted compared to mating within subspecies. These findings demonstrate that spore size dimorphism is linked to virulence of M. circinelloides species and that plasticity of the sex locus and adaptations in pathogenicity have occurred during speciation of the M. circinelloides complex.
Project description:Ascochyta and Phoma are fungal genera containing several important plant pathogenic species. These genera are morphologically similar, and recent molecular studies performed to unravel their phylogeny have resulted in the establishment of several new genera within the newly erected Didymellaceae family. An analysis of the structure of fungal mating-type genes can contribute to a better understanding of the taxonomic relationships of these plant pathogens, and may shed some light on their evolution and on differences in sexual strategy and pathogenicity. We analysed the mating-type loci of phylogenetically closely related Ascochyta and Phoma species (Phoma clematidina, Didymella vitalbina, Didymella clematidis, Peyronellaea pinodes and Peyronellaea pinodella) that co-occur on the same hosts, either on Clematis or Pisum. The results confirm that the mating-type genes provide the information to distinguish between the homothallic Pey. pinodes (formerly Ascochyta pinodes) and the heterothallic Pey. pinodella (formerly Phoma pinodella), and indicate the close phylogenetic relationship between these two species that are part of the disease complex responsible for Ascochyta blight on pea. Furthermore, our analysis of the mating-type genes of the fungal species responsible for causing wilt of Clematis sp. revealed that the heterothallic D. vitalbina (Phoma anamorph) is more closely related to the homothallic D. clematidis (Ascochyta anamorph) than to the heterothallic P. clematidina. Finally, our results indicate that homothallism in D. clematidis resulted from a single crossover between MAT1-1 and MAT1-2 sequences of heterothallic ancestors, whereas a single crossover event followed by an inversion of a fused MAT1/2 locus resulted in homothallism in Pey. pinodes.
Project description:In fungi belonging to the phylum Basidiomycota, sexual compatibility is usually determined by two genetically unlinked MAT loci, one of which encodes one or more pheromone receptors (P/R) and pheromone precursors, and the other comprehends at least one pair of divergently transcribed genes encoding homeodomain (HD) transcription factors. Most species are heterothallic, meaning that sexual reproduction requires mating between two sexually compatible individuals harboring different alleles at both MAT loci. However, some species are known to be homothallic, one individual being capable of completing the sexual cycle without mating with a genetically distinct partner. While the molecular underpinnings of the heterothallic life cycles of several basidiomycete model species have been dissected in great detail, much less is known concerning the molecular basis for homothallism. Following the discovery in available draft genomes of the homothallic basidiomycetous yeast Phaffia rhodozyma of P/R and HD genes, we employed available genetic tools to determine their role in sexual development. Two P/R clusters, each harboring one pheromone receptor and one pheromone precursor gene were found in close vicinity of each other and were shown to form two redundant P/R pairs, each receptor being activated by the pheromone encoded by the most distal pheromone precursor gene. The HD locus is apparently genetically unlinked to the P/R locus and encodes a single pair of divergently transcribed HD1 and HD2 transcription factors, both required for normal completion of the sexual cycle. Given the genetic makeup of P. rhodozyma MAT loci, we postulate that it is a primarily homothallic organism and we propose a model for the interplay of molecular interactions required for sexual development in this species. Phaffia rhodozyma is considered one of the most promising microbial source of the carotenoid astaxanthin. Further development of this yeast as an industrial organism will benefit from new insights regarding its sexual reproduction system.
Project description:The fungal kingdom displays a fascinating diversity of sex-determination systems. Recent advances in genomics provide insights into the molecular mechanisms of sex, mating type determination, and evolution of sexual reproduction in many fungal species in both ancient and modern phylogenetic lineages. All major fungal groups have evolved sexual differentiation and recombination pathways. However, sexuality is unknown in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) of the phylum Glomeromycota, an ecologically vital group of obligate plant root symbionts. AMF are commonly considered an ancient asexual lineage dating back to the Ordovician, approximately 460 M years ago. In this study, we used genomic and transcriptomic surveys of several AMF species to demonstrate the presence of conserved putative sex pheromone-sensing mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, comparable to those described in Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. We also find genes for high mobility group (HMG) transcription factors, homologous to SexM and SexP genes in the Mucorales. The SexM genes show a remarkable sequence diversity among multiple copies in the genome, while only a single SexP sequence was detected in some isolates of Rhizophagus irregularis. In the Mucorales and Microsporidia, the sexM gene is flanked by genes for a triosephosphate transporter (TPT) and a RNA helicase, but we find no evidence for synteny in the vicinity of the Sex locus in AMF. Nonetheless, our results, together with previous observations on meiotic machinery, suggest that AMF could undergo a complete sexual reproduction cycle.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Isogamous organisms lack obvious cytological differences in the gametes of the two complementary mating types. Consequently, it is difficult to ascertain which of the two mating types are homologous when comparing related but sexual isolated strains or species. The colonial volvocalean algal genus Gonium consists of such isogamous organisms with heterothallic mating types designated arbitrarily as plus or minus in addition to homothallic strains. Homologous molecular markers among lineages may provide an "objective" framework to assign heterothallic mating types.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Using degenerate primers designed based on previously reported MID orthologs, the "master regulator" of mating types/sexes in the colonial Volvocales, MID homologs were identified and their presence/absence was examined in nine strains of four species of Gonium. Only one of the two complementary mating types in each of the four heterothallic species has a MID homolog. In addition to heterothallic strains, a homothallic strain of G. multicoccum has MID. Molecular evolutionary analysis suggests that MID of this homothallic strain retains functional constraint comparable to that of the heterothallic strains.<h4>Conclusion/significance</h4>We coordinated mating genotypes based on presence or absence of a MID homolog, respectively, in heterothallic species. This scheme should be applicable to heterothallic species of other isogamous colonial Volvocales including Pandorina and Yamagishiella. Homothallism emerged polyphyletically in the colonial Volvocales, although its mechanism remains unknown. Our identification of a MID homolog for a homothallic strain of G. multicoccum suggests a MID-dependent mechanism is involved in the sexual developmental program of this homothallic species.
Project description:Mating systems of haploid species such as fungi, algae, and bryophytes are either heterothallic (self-incompatible) with two sex phenotypes (male and female, or mating type minus and plus in isogamous species) or homothallic (self-compatible) with only a bisexual phenotype producing zygotes within a clone. The anisogamous volvocine green alga Pleodorina starrii is a haploid species previously reported to have a heterothallic mating system. Here, we found that two additional culture strains originating from the same water system of P. starrii were taxonomically identified as P. starrii and produced male and female gametes and zygotes within a clone (bisexual). Sequences of rapidly evolving plastid genome regions were identical between the bisexual and unisexual (male or female) P. starrii strains. Intercrossings between the bisexual and unisexual strains demonstrated normal thick-walled zygotes and high survivability of F1 strains. Thus, these strains belong to the same biological species. Pleodorina starrii has a new haploid mating system that is unique in having three sex phenotypes, namely, male, female, and bisexual. Genetic analyses suggested the existence of autosomal "bisexual factor" locus independent of volvocine male and female determining regions. The present findings increase our understanding of the initial evolutionary step of transition from heterothallism to homothallism.
Project description:Cell type in budding yeasts is determined by the genotype at the mating-type (MAT) locus, but yeast species differ widely in their mating compatibility systems and life cycles. Among sexual yeasts, heterothallic species are those in which haploid strains fall into two distinct and stable mating types (MATa and MAT?), whereas homothallic species are those that can switch mating types or that appear not to have distinct mating types [1, 2]. The evolutionary history of these mating compatibility systems is uncertain, particularly regarding the number and direction of transitions between homothallism and heterothallism, and regarding whether the process of mating-type switching had a single origin [3-5]. Here, we inferred the mating compatibility systems of 332 budding yeast species from their genome sequences. By reference to a robust phylogenomic tree , we detected evolutionary transitions between heterothallism and homothallism, and among different forms of homothallism. We find that mating-type switching has arisen independently at least 11 times during yeast evolution and that transitions from heterothallism to homothallism greatly outnumber transitions in the opposite direction (31 versus 3). Although the 3-locus MAT-HML-HMR mechanism of mating-type switching as seen in Saccharomyces cerevisiae had a single evolutionary origin in budding yeasts, simpler "flip/flop" mechanisms of switching evolved separately in at least 10 other groups of yeasts. These results point to the adaptive value of homothallism and mating-type switching to unicellular fungi.
Project description:Transitions between separate sexes (dioecy) and other mating systems are common across eukaryotes. Here, we study a change in a haploid dioecious green algal species with male- and female-determining chromosomes (U and V). The genus <i>Volvox</i> is an oogamous (with large, immotile female gametes and small, motile male gametes) and includes both heterothallic species (with distinct male and female genotypes, associated with a mating-type system that prevents fusion of gametes of the same sex) and homothallic species (bisexual, with the ability to self-fertilize). We date the origin of an expanded sex-determining region (SDR) in <i>Volvox</i> to at least 75 Mya, suggesting that homothallism represents a breakdown of dioecy (heterothallism). We investigated the involvement of the SDR of the U and V chromosomes in this transition. Using de novo whole-genome sequences, we identified a heteromorphic SDR of ca 1 Mbp in male and female genotypes of the heterothallic species <i>Volvox reticuliferus</i> and a homologous region (SDLR) in the closely related homothallic species <i>Volvox africanus</i>, which retained several different hallmark features of an SDR. The <i>V. africanus</i> SDLR includes a large region resembling the female SDR of the presumptive heterothallic ancestor, whereas most genes from the male SDR are absent. However, we found a multicopy array of the male-determining gene, <i>MID</i>, in a different genomic location from the SDLR. Thus, in <i>V. africanus</i>, an ancestrally female genotype may have acquired <i>MID</i> and thereby gained male traits.