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Proc Biol Sci. 2004 Jun 22;271(1545):1235-41.

The evolution of non-reciprocal nuclear exchange in mushrooms as a consequence of genomic conflict.

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Department of Population Ecology, Biological Institute of the University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.


Heterothallic mushrooms accomplish sex by exchanging nuclei without cytoplasm. Hyphal fusions occur between haploid mycelia resulting from germinated spores and subsequent reciprocal nuclear exchange without cytoplasmic mixing. The resulting dikaryon is therefore a cytoplasmic mosaic with uniformly distributed nuclei (two in each cell). Cytoplasmic inheritance is doubly uniparental: both mated monokaryons can potentially transmit their cytoplasm to the sexual spores, but normally only a single type per spore is found. Intracellular competition between mitochondria is thus limited, but at the dikaryon level, the two types of mitochondria compete over transmission. This creates the conditions for genomic conflict: within the dikaryon, a selfish mitochondrial mutant with increased relative transmission can be favoured, but selection between dikaryons will act against such a mitochondrial mutant. Moreover, because nuclear fitness is directly dependent on dikaryon fitness, a reduction in dikaryon fitness directly conflicts with nuclear interests. We propose that genomic conflict explains the frequent occurrence of non-reciprocal nuclear exchange in mushrooms. With non-reciprocal exchange, one monokaryon donates a nucleus and the other accepts it, but not vice versa as in the typical life cycle. We propose a model where non-reciprocal nuclear exchange is primarily driven by mitochondria inducing male sterility and the evolution of nuclear suppressors.

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