From Two to One: Unipolar Sexual Reproduction.
While sexual reproduction is universal in eukaryotes, and shares conserved core features, the specific aspects of sexual reproduction can differ dramatically from species to species. This is also true in Fungi. Among fungal species, mating determination can vary from tetrapolar with more than a thousand different mating types, to bipolar with only two opposite mating types, and finally to unipolar without the need of a compatible mating partner for sexual reproduction. Cryptococcus neoformans is a human pathogenic fungus that belongs to the Basidiomycota. While C. neoformans has a well-defined bipolar mating system with two opposite mating types, MATa and MATα, it can also undergo homothallic unisexual reproduction from one single cell or between two cells of the same mating type. Recently, it was shown that, as in a-α bisexual reproduction, meiosis is also involved in α-α unisexual reproduction in C. neoformans. Briefly, recombination frequencies, the number of crossovers along chromosomes, as well as frequencies at which aneuploid and diploid progeny are produced, are all comparable between a-α bisexual and α-α unisexual reproduction. The plasticity observed in C. neoformans sexual reproduction highlights the extensive diversity in mating type determination, mating recognition, as well as modes of sexual reproduction across fungal species.
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