Submitted to: Mycological Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/12/2003
Publication Date: 2/1/2003
Citation: Berbee, M., Payne, B.P., Zhang, G., Roberts, R.G., Turgeon, G.B. 2003. Shared its dna substitutions in isolates of opposite mating type reveal a recombiing history for three presumed asexual species in the filamentous ascomycete genus alternaria. Mycological Research. 107(2):169-182.
Interpretive Summary: The majority of species in the fungal genus Alernaria are not known to reproduce sexually, even though they may exhibit the kind and range of genetic variation that is usually attributable to sexual reproduction. This study used the polymerase chain reaction and primers designed to amplify sequences from known mating type genes in three Alernaria species that are not known to reproduce sexually. In all three species both mating type genes were present, and there appeared to have been genetic recombination (sexual reproduction) at some point in their evolutionary histories. Whether the capacity for sex was lost or has just not been found is currently unknown.
Technical Abstract: About 15,000 species of ascomycete fungi lack a known sexual state. For fungi with asexual states in the form genera Embellisia, Ulocladium and Alternaria, six species have known sexual states but more than 50 species do not. In sexual filamentous ascomycetes, opposite mating type information at the MATI locus regulates mating and the opposite mating type genes each have a clonal, non-recombining phylogentic history. We used PCR to amplify and sequence fragments of the opposite mating type genes from three supposedly asexual species, Alternaria brassicae, A. Brassicicola and A. tenuissima. Each haploid fungal isolate had just one mating type, but both mating types were present in all the three species. We sequenced the ribosomal ITS regions for isolates of opposite mating type, for the three asexual species and four known related sexual species. In a phylogenetic analysis including other ITS sequences from GenBank, the three asexual species were not closely related to any of the known sexual species. Isolates of opposite mating type but the same species had identical ITS sequences. During any period of asexual evolutionary history, lineages of each mating type would have had a separate evolutionary history and any ITS substitutions shared between isolates of opposite mating type would have had to accumulate by convergence. Allowing for varying substitution rates and assuming a Poisson distribution of substitutions, the probability that isolates of opposite mating type shared an ITS substitution through convergence was low. This suggests that isolates of opposite mating type of A. brassicae, A. brassicicola and A. tenuissima were exchanging substitutions through sexual or parasexual reproduction while the ITS was evolving. If sexuality was lost, it was lost after the period of evolutionary history represented by the shared substitutions.