Convergent evolution of linked mating-type loci in basidiomycete fungi.
Sexual development is a key evolutionary innovation of eukaryotes. In many species, mating involves interaction between compatible mating partners that can undergo cell and nuclear fusion and subsequent steps of development including meiosis. Mating compatibility in fungi is governed by the mating type (MAT) loci. In basidiomycetes, the ancestral state is hypothesized to be tetrapolar, with two genetically unlinked MAT loci containing homeodomain transcription factor genes (HD locus) and pheromone and pheromone receptor genes (P/R locus), respectively. Alleles at both loci must differ between mating partners for completion of sexual development. However, there are also basidiomycetes with bipolar mating systems, which can arise through genomic linkage of the HD and P/R loci. In the order Tremellales, bipolarity is found only in the pathogenic Cryptococcus species. Here, we describe the analysis of MAT loci from 24 species of the Trichosporonales, a sister order to the Tremellales. In all of the species analyzed, the MAT loci are fused and a single HD gene is present in each mating type, similar to the organization in the pathogenic Cryptococci. However, the HD and P/R allele combinations in the Trichosporonales are different from those in the pathogenic Cryptococci. This and the existence of tetrapolar species in the Tremellales suggest that fusion of the HD and P/R loci occurred independently in the Trichosporonales and pathogenic Cryptococci, supporting the hypothesis of convergent evolution towards fused MAT regions, similar to previous findings in other fungal groups. Unlike the fused MAT loci in several other basidiomycete lineages though, the gene content and gene order within the fused MAT loci are highly conserved in the Trichosporonales, and there is no apparent suppression of recombination extending from the MAT loci to adjacent chromosomal regions, suggesting different mechanisms for the evolution of physically linked MAT loci in these groups.
Sun, S; Coelho, MA; Heitman, J; Nowrousian, M
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