April 21, 2020  |  

Convergent evolution of linked mating-type loci in basidiomycetes: an ancient fusion event that has stood the test of time

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 mating type determinants, which are localized at mating type (MAT) loci. In basidiomycetes, the ancestral state is hypothesized to be tetrapolar (bifactorial), 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 basidiomycete species with bipolar (unifactorial) mating systems, which can arise through genomic linkage of the HD and P/R loci. In the order Tremellales, which is comprised of mostly yeast-like species, bipolarity is found only in the human pathogenic Cryptococcus species. Here, we describe the analysis of MAT loci from the Trichosporonales, a sister order to the Tremellales. We analyzed genome sequences from 29 strains that belong to 24 species, including two new genome sequences generated in this study. Interestingly, in all of the species analyzed, the MAT loci are fused and a single HD gene is present in each mating type. This is similar to the organization in the pathogenic Cryptococci, which also have linked MAT loci and carry only one HD gene per MAT locus instead of the usual two HD genes found in the vast majority of basidiomycetes. However, the HD and P/R allele combinations in the Trichosporonales are different from those in the pathogenic Cryptococcus species. The differences in allele combinations compared to the bipolar Cryptococci as well as the existence of tetrapolar Tremellales sister species suggest that fusion of the HD and P/R loci and differential loss of one of the two HD genes per MAT allele occurred independently in the Trichosporonales and pathogenic Cryptococci. This finding supports the hypothesis of convergent evolution at the molecular level towards fused mating-type regions in fungi, 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.


April 21, 2020  |  

The smut fungus Ustilago esculenta has a bipolar mating system with three idiomorphs larger than 500?kb.

Zizania latifolia Turcz., which is mainly distributed in Asia, has had a long cultivation history as a cereal and vegetable crop. On infection with the smut fungus Ustilago esculenta, Z. latifolia becomes an edible vegetable, water bamboo. Two main cultivars, with a green shell and red shell, are cultivated for commercial production in Taiwan. Previous studies indicated that cultivars of Z. latifolia may be related to the infected U. esculenta isolates. However, related research is limited. The infection process of the corn smut fungus Ustilago maydis is coupled with sexual development and under control of the mating type locus. Thus, we aimed to use the knowledge of U. maydis to reveal the mating system of U. esculenta. We collected water bamboo samples and isolated 145 U. esculenta strains from Taiwan’s major production areas. By using PCR and idiomorph screening among meiotic offspring and field isolates, we identified three idiomorphs of the mating type locus and found no sequence recombination between them. Whole-genome sequencing (Illumina and PacBio) suggested that the mating system of U. esculenta was bipolar. Mating type locus 1 (MAT-1) was 552,895?bp and contained 44% repeated sequences. Sequence comparison revealed that U. esculenta MAT-1 shared high gene synteny with Sporisorium reilianum and many repeats with Ustilago hordei MAT-1. These results can be utilized to further explore the genomic diversity of U. esculenta isolates and their application for water bamboo breeding. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Development of a Molecular Marker Linked to the A4 Locus and the Structure of HD Genes in Pleurotus eryngii

Allelic differences in A and B mating-type loci are a prerequisite for the progression of mating in the genus Pleurotus eryngii; thus, the crossing is hampered by this biological barrier in inbreeding. Molecular markers linked to mating types of P. eryngii KNR2312 were investigated with randomly amplified polymorphic DNA to enhance crossing efficiency. An A4-linked sequence was identified and used to find the adjacent genomic region with the entire motif of the A locus from a contig sequenced by PacBio. The sequence-characterized amplified region marker 7-2299 distinguished A4 mating-type monokaryons from KNR2312 and other strains. A BLAST search of flanked sequences revealed that the A4 locus had a general feature consisting of the putative HD1 and HD2 genes. Both putative HD transcription factors contain a homeodomain sequence and a nuclear localization sequence; however, valid dimerization motifs were found only in the HD1 protein. The ACAAT motif, which was reported to have relevance to sex determination, was found in the intergenic region. The SCAR marker could be applicable in the classification of mating types in the P. eryngii breeding program, and the A4 locus could be the basis for a multi-allele detection marker.


April 21, 2020  |  

Interspecies conservation of organisation and function between nonhomologous regional centromeres.

Despite the conserved essential function of centromeres, centromeric DNA itself is not conserved. The histone-H3 variant, CENP-A, is the epigenetic mark that specifies centromere identity. Paradoxically, CENP-A normally assembles on particular sequences at specific genomic locations. To gain insight into the specification of complex centromeres, here we take an evolutionary approach, fully assembling genomes and centromeres of related fission yeasts. Centromere domain organization, but not sequence, is conserved between Schizosaccharomyces pombe, S. octosporus and S. cryophilus with a central CENP-ACnp1 domain flanked by heterochromatic outer-repeat regions. Conserved syntenic clusters of tRNA genes and 5S rRNA genes occur across the centromeres of S. octosporus and S. cryophilus, suggesting conserved function. Interestingly, nonhomologous centromere central-core sequences from S. octosporus and S. cryophilus are recognized in S. pombe, resulting in cross-species establishment of CENP-ACnp1 chromatin and functional kinetochores. Therefore, despite the lack of sequence conservation, Schizosaccharomyces centromere DNA possesses intrinsic conserved properties that promote assembly of CENP-A chromatin.


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