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Mycol Res. 2005 Mar;109(Pt 3):314-8.

Termitomyces sp. associated with the termite Macrotermes natalensis has a heterothallic mating system and multinucleate cells.

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Department of Population Biology, Biological Institute, University of Copenhagen, DK-2100 Copenhagen O, Denmark.


Fungi of the genus Termitomyces live in an obligate symbiosis with termites of the subfamily Macrotermitinae. Many species of Termitomyces frequently form fruit bodies, which develop from the fungus comb within the nest. In this study, we determined the mating system of a species of Termitomyces associated with the South African termite Macrotermes natalensis. Termite nests were excavated and a Termitomyces sp. was isolated into pure culture from the asexual fruit bodies (nodules) growing in the fungus gardens. For one strain, single basidiospore cultures were obtained from basidiomes growing from the fungus comb after incubation without termites. Using nuclear staining, we show that both comb cultures and single spore cultures have multinucleate cells and that the majority of spores has a single nucleus. However, DNA sequencing of the ITS region in the nuclear RNA gene revealed that the comb mycelium had two different ITS types that segregated in the single spore cultures, which consequently had only a single ITS type. These results unambiguously prove that the strain of Termitomyces studied here has a heterothallic mating system, with the fungus garden of the termite mound being in the heterokaryotic phase. This is the first time the mating system of a Termitomnyces species has been studied.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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