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Fungal Genet Biol. 2008 Sep;45(9):1292-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fgb.2008.06.007. Epub 2008 Jul 3.

Characterization and population analysis of the mating-type genes in Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.

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Center for Integrated Fungal Research, Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.


We characterize the mating-type genes in Aspergillus flavus,Aspergillus parasiticus and Petromyces alliaceus. A single MAT1-1 or MAT1-2 gene was detected in the genomes of A. flavus and A. parasiticus, which is consistent with a potential heterothallic organization of MAT genes in these species. In contrast, the only known, functionally homothallic species in Aspergillus section Flavi, P. alliaceus, has tightly linked (<2kb) MAT1-1 and MAT1-2 genes, typical of other self-fertile homothallic euascomycetes. This is the first example of linked MAT genes within a homothallic species of Aspergillus. We tested the null hypothesis of no significant difference in the frequency of MAT1-1 and MAT1-2 in A. flavus and A. parasiticus sampled from a single peanut field in Georgia. For each species, mating-type frequencies were determined for the total population samples and for samples that were clone-corrected based on vegetative compatibility groups (VCGs) and aflatoxin gene cluster haplotypes. There was no significant difference in the frequency of the two mating types for A. flavus and A. parasiticus in either VCG or haplotype clone-corrected samples. The existence of both mating-type genes in equal proportions in A. flavus and A. parasiticus populations, coupled with their expression at the mRNA level and the high amino acid sequence identity of MAT1-1 (77%) and MAT1-2 (83%) with corresponding homologs in P. alliaceus, indicates the potential functionality of these genes and the possible existence of a sexual state in these agriculturally important species.

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