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Intratetrad mating, heterozygosity, and the maintenance of deleterious alleles in Microbotryum violaceum (=Ustilago violacea)

Authors


Michael E. Hood E-mail: michael.hood@virginia.edu

Abstract

The mating system of Microbotryum violaceum was investigated in populations that are polymorphic for mating-type bias, where individuals produce viable haploids of only one of the two required mating types. The cause of mating-type bias was identified as deleterious recessive alleles linked to mating type. Maintenance of the deleterious alleles was promoted by early conjugation among products of single meioses, such that the duration of the free-living haploid stage is minimized. This development was also observed in nonbiased isolates. As a consequence, the mating system tends toward mating within the tetrad, which might be expected to reduce heterozygosity. However, complete centromere linkage of mating type ensures conjugation between first division meiotic products, such that mating in M. violaceum is analogous to forms of meiotic parthenogenesis with first division restitution (i.e. automixis with central fusion). This fungus was used to test the prediction that this mating system would maintain heterozygosity in regions of the genome linked to centromeres. Therefore, populations were screened for additional heterozygous lethal recessive alleles linked to centromeres, and several examples were found. Furthermore, the occurrence of intratetrad mating in M. violaceum provides an explanation for low variation among individuals within populations, inconsistent estimates of outcrossing rates, low levels of mating between tetrads of one diploid individual, and high frequencies of haplo-lethal alleles in natural populations.

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