The necrotrophic fungal pathogen Sclerotinia trifoliorum exhibits ascospore dimorphism and unidirectional mating type switching - self-fertile strains derived from large ascospores produce both self-fertile (large-spores) and self-sterile (small-spores) offsprings in a 4:4 ratio. The present study, comparing DNA sequences at MAT locus of both self-fertile and self-sterile strains, found four mating type genes (MAT1-1-1, MAT1-1-5, MAT1-2-1 and MAT1-2-4) in the self-fertile strain. However, a 2891-bp region including the entire MAT1-2-1 and MAT1-2-4 genes had been completely deleted from the MAT locus in the self-sterile strain. Meanwhile, two copies of a 146-bp direct repeat motif flanking the deleted region were found in the self-fertile strain, but only one copy of this 146-bp motif (a part of the MAT1-1-1 gene) was present in the self-sterile strain. The two direct repeats were believed to be responsible for the deletion through homologous intra-molecular recombination in meiosis. Tetrad analyses showed that all small ascospore-derived strains lacked the missing DNA between the two direct repeats that was found in all large ascospore-derived strains. In addition, heterokaryons at the MAT locus were observed in field isolates as well as in laboratory derived isolates.
Journal: Scientific reports