Journal Article

Conserved Meiotic Machinery in <i>Glomus</i> spp., a Putatively Ancient Asexual Fungal Lineage

Sébastien Halary, Shehre-Banoo Malik, Levannia Lildhar, Claudio H. Slamovits, Mohamed Hijri and Nicolas Corradi

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 3, issue , pages 950-958
Published in print January 2011 |
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) represent an ecologically important and evolutionarily intriguing group of symbionts of land plants, currently thought to have propagated clonally for over 500 Myr. AMF produce multinucleate spores and may exchange nuclei through anastomosis, but meiosis has never been observed in this group. A provocative alternative for their successful and long asexual evolutionary history is that these organisms may have cryptic sex, allowing them to recombine alleles and compensate for deleterious mutations. This is partly supported by reports of recombination among some of their natural populations. We explored this hypothesis by searching for some of the primary tools for a sustainable sexual cycle—the genes whose products are required for proper completion of meiotic recombination in yeast—in the genomes of four AMF and compared them with homologs of representative ascomycete, basidiomycete, chytridiomycete, and zygomycete fungi. Our investigation used molecular and bioinformatic tools to identify homologs of 51 meiotic genes, including seven meiosis-specific genes and other “core meiotic genes” conserved in the genomes of the AMF Glomus diaphanum (MUCL 43196), Glomus irregulare (DAOM-197198), Glomus clarum (DAOM 234281), and Glomus cerebriforme (DAOM 227022). Homology of AMF meiosis-specific genes was verified by phylogenetic analyses with representative fungi, animals (Mus, Hydra), and a choanoflagellate (Monosiga). Together, these results indicate that these supposedly ancient asexual fungi may be capable of undergoing a conventional meiosis; a hypothesis that is consistent with previous reports of recombination within and across some of their populations.

Keywords: comparative genomics; meiosis; fungi; arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; genome evolution; ancient asexuals

Journal Article.  4640 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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