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Heredity (Edinb). 2002 Feb;88(2):142-7.

Mate recognition in fungi.

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Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RB, UK.


The ascomycete and basidiomycete fungi have contributed much to our understanding of eukaryotic cell biology. The study of mate recognition, in particular, has provided detailed understanding of cell signalling pathways and cell-specific gene transcription. Sexual dimorphism has little relevance to mating in these organisms, indeed specialised cells for mating are found only in filamentous ascomycetes and even here, a single individual produces both male and female structures. None the less, most species have genetic barriers to prevent selfing. The genes that determine self-incompatibility divide populations into different mating types, and only individuals with different mating types can engage in sexual reproduction. Ascomycetes have just two mating types, but basidiomycetes may have several thousands. Despite apparent differences in the biology and numbers of mating types in these fungi, it is becoming increasingly apparent that many components of their mating pathways are highly conserved.

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