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Microbiol Rev. 1995 Dec;59(4):686-98.

Chromosome-length polymorphism in fungi.

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Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405, USA.


The examination of fungal chromosomes by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis has revealed that length polymorphism is widespread in both sexual and asexual species. This review summarizes characteristics of fungal chromosome-length polymorphism and possible mitotic and meiotic mechanisms of chromosome length change. Most fungal chromosome-length polymorphisms are currently uncharacterized with respect to content and origin. However, it is clear that long tandem repeats, such as tracts of rRNA genes, are frequently variable in length and that other chromosomal rearrangements are suppressed during normal mitotic growth. Dispensable chromosomes and dispensable chromosome regions, which have been well documented for some fungi, also contribute to the variability of the fungal karyotype. For sexual species, meiotic recombination increases the overall karyotypic variability in a population while suppressing genetic translocations. The range of karyotypes observed in fungi indicates that many karyotypic changes may be genetically neutral, at least under some conditions. In addition, new linkage combinations of genes may also be advantageous in allowing adaptation of fungi to new environments.

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