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Proc Biol Sci. 2013 Jun 19;280(1764):20130862. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0862. Print 2013 Aug 7.

Sex-linked transcriptional divergence in the hermaphrodite fungus Neurospora tetrasperma.

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Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 7026, 75007 Uppsala, Sweden.


In the filamentous ascomycete Neurospora tetrasperma, a large (approx. 7 Mbp) region of suppressed recombination surrounds the mating-type (mat) locus. While the remainder of the genome is largely homoallelic, this region of recombinational suppression, extending over 1500 genes, is associated with sequence divergence. Here, we used microarrays to examine how the molecular phenotype of gene expression level is linked to this divergent region, and thus to the mating type. Culturing N. tetrasperma on agar media that induce sexual/female or vegetative/male tissue, we found 196 genes significantly differentially expressed between mat A and mat a mating types. Our data show that the genes exhibiting mat-linked expression are enriched in the region genetically linked to mating type, and sequence and expression divergence are positively correlated. Our results indicate that the phenotype of mat A strains is optimized for traits promoting sexual/female development and the phenotype of mat a strains for vegetative/male development. This discovery of differentially expressed genes associated with mating type provides a link between genotypic and phenotypic divergence in this taxon and illustrates a fungal analogue to sexual dimorphism found among animals and plants.


Neurospora tetrasperma; gene expression; sexual dimorphism

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