Programmed Ascospore Death in the Homothallic Ascomycete Coniochaeta tetraspora
Authors: Raju N.B.; Perkins D.D.
Source: Fungal Genetics and Biology, Volume 30, Number 3, August 2000 , pp. 213-221(9)
Publisher: Academic Press
Immature asci of Coniochaeta tetraspora originally contain eight uninucleate ascospores. Two ascospore pairs in each ascus survive and mature, and two die and degenerate. Arrangement of the two ascospore types in individual linear asci is what would be expected if death is controlled by a chromosomal gene segregating at the second meiotic division in about 50% of asci. Cultures originating from single homokaryotic ascospores or from single uninucleate conidia are self-fertile, again producing eight-spored asci in which four spores disintegrate, generation after generation. These observations indicate that differentiation of two nuclear types occurs de novo in each sexual generation, that it involves alteration of a specific chromosome locus, and that the change occurs early in the sexual phase. One, and only one, of the two haploid nuclei entering each functional zygote must carry the altered element, which is segregated into two of the four meiotic products and is eliminated when ascospores that contain it disintegrate. Fusion of nuclei cannot be randoma recognition mechanism must exist. More study will be needed to determine whether the change that is responsible for ascospore death is genetic or epigenetic, whether it occurs just before the formation of each ascus or originates only once in the ascogonium prior to proliferation of ascogenous hyphae, and whether it reflects developmentally triggered alteration at a locus other than mating type or the activation of a silent mating-type gene that has pleiotropic effects. Similar considerations apply to species such as Sclerotinia trifoliorum and Chromocrea spinulosa, in which all ascospores survive but half the spores in each ascus are small and self-sterile. Unlike C. tetraspora, another four-spored species, Coniochaetidium savoryi, is pseudohomothallic, with ascus development resembling that of Podospora anserina. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.
Document Type: Research article
Affiliations: Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 94305-5020
Publication date: 2000-08-01