, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 113-119

Vegetative incompatibility in Neurospora: its effect on horizontal transfer of mitochondrial plasmids and senescence in natural populations

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Abstract

We have investigated the horizontal transfer of two mitochondrial plasmids and the Kalilo senescence phenotype in the fungus Neurospora without the use of heterokaryon-forcing markers. The Kalilo senescent state was only transferred between fully-compatible N. crassa strains, but not between strains differing at any of the loci het-c, het-d, het-e or mating-type. However, the linear plasmid kalDNA and the circular plasmid Han-2 were transferred following incompatible vegetative interactions. Our data suggest that vegetative incompatibility due to allelic differences at het-c is more effective in preventing transfer than that due to het-d, het-e or mating-type. Based on these observations we have developed a novel test for assessing vegetative incompatibility between Kalilo and non-Kalilo field isolates of N. intermedia. In this procedure combinations of Kalilo and non-Kalilo field isolates of N. intermedia were grown together and tested for senescence. Compatibility is inferred if the young non-Kalilo strain dies along with the senescent Kalilo strain, whereas incompatibility is inferred when the Kalilo strain dies without imposing its senescent state onto the non-Kalilo strain. Our results suggest that each of the nine Kalilo strains tested is incompatible with each of 20 non-Kalilo isolates from the same N. intermedia population of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. However, the observed incompatibility did not completely prevent cytoplasmic exchange, and in several cases plasmid transfer could be detected.