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Mating type gene analysis in apparently asexual Cercospora species is suggestive of cryptic sex.

Fungal Genet Biol 2006 Dec 12;43(12):813-25. Epub 2006 Jul 12.

Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Fungal Biodiversity Centre, Uppsalalaan 8, Utrecht, The Netherlands; Laboratory of Phytopathology, Wageningen University, Binnenhaven 5, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

The genus Cercospora consists of numerous important, apparently asexual plant pathogens. We designed degenerate primers from homologous sequences in related species to amplify part of the C. apii, C. apiicola, C. beticola, C. zeae-maydis and C. zeina mating type genes. Chromosome walking was used to determine the full length mating type genes of these species. Primers were developed to amplify and sequence homologous portions of the mating type genes of additional species. Phylogenetic analyses of these sequences revealed little variation among members of the C. apii complex, whereas C. zeae-maydis and C. zeina were found to be dissimilar. The presence of both mating types in approximately even proportions in C. beticola, C. zeae-maydis and C. zeina populations, in contrast to single mating types in C. apii (MAT1) and C. apiicola (MAT2), suggests that a sexual cycle may be active in some of these species.

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