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Curr Biol. 2011 Sep 27;21(18):R786-93. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.042.

Nuclear and genome dynamics in multinucleate ascomycete fungi.

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Department of Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley, USA.


Genetic variation between individuals is essential to evolution and adaptation. However, intra-organismic genetic variation also shapes the life histories of many organisms, including filamentous fungi. A single fungal syncytium can harbor thousands or millions of mobile and potentially genotypically different nuclei, each having the capacity to regenerate a new organism. Because the dispersal of asexual or sexual spores propagates individual nuclei in many of these species, selection acting at the level of nuclei creates the potential for competitive and cooperative genome dynamics. Recent work in Neurospora crassa and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum has illuminated how nuclear populations are coordinated for fungal growth and other behaviors and has revealed both molecular and physical mechanisms for preventing and policing inter-genomic conflict. Recent results from population-level genomic studies in a variety of filamentous fungi suggest that nuclear exchange between mycelia and recombination between heterospecific nuclei may be of more importance to fungal evolution, diversity and the emergence of newly virulent strains than has previously been recognized.

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