• Fusarium graminearum ;
  • mating-type genes;
  • self-fertility;
  • sexual reproduction


Members of the Fusarium graminearum species (Fg) complex, which are homothallic ascomycetous species, carry two opposite mating-type (MAT) loci in a single nucleus for controlling sexual development. We investigated the roles of three (MAT1-1-1, MAT1-1-2, and MAT1-1-3) and two (MAT1-2-1 and MAT1-2-3) transcripts located at both loci in representative Fg complex species (F. graminearum and Fusarium asiaticum). In self-fertile F. graminearum strains, the transcript levels of MAT1-1-1, MAT1-2-1, and MAT1-2-3 peaked 2 days after sexual induction (dai) and then remained high until 12 dai, whereas MAT1-1-2 and MAT1-1-3 transcripts reached peak levels between 4 and 8 dai. In contrast, all of the MAT transcripts in self-sterile F. asiaticum strains accumulated at much lower levels than those in F. graminearum during the entire time. Targeted gene deletions confirmed that MAT1-1-1, MAT1-1-2, MAT1-1-3, and MAT1-2-1 were essential for self-fertility in F. graminearum, but MAT1-2-3 was not. All MAT-deleted strains (except ΔMAT1-2-3) produced recombinant perithecia when outcrossed to a self-fertile strain. These results indicate that developmental up-regulation of the individual MAT genes in both a proper fashion and quantity is critical for sexual development, and that alterations in the gene expression could be attributed to the variation in self-sterility among the Fg complex.