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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jan 23, 1996; 93(2): 770–773.
PMCID: PMC40130

Molecular markers reveal cryptic sex in the human pathogen Coccidioides immitis.

Abstract

Coccidioides immitis, cause of a recent epidemic of "Valley fever" in California, is typical of many eukaryotic microbes in that mating and meiosis have yet to be reported, but it is not clear whether sex is truly absent or just cryptic. To find out, we have undertaken a population genetic study using PCR amplification, screening for single-strand conformation polymorphisms, and direct DNA sequencing to find molecular markers with nucleotide-level resolution. Both population genetic and phylogenetic analyses indicate that C. immitis is almost completely recombining. To our knowledge, this study is the first to find molecular evidence for recombination in a fungus for which no sexual stage has yet been described. These results motivate a directed search for mating and meiosis and illustrate the utility of single-strand conformation polymorphism and sequencing with arbitrary primer pairs in molecular population genetics.

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