, Volume 178, Issue 5–6, pp 349–362 | Cite as

Aspergillus: Sex and Recombination

  • János Varga
  • Gyöngyi Szigeti
  • Nikolett Baranyi
  • Sándor Kocsubé
  • Céline M. O’Gorman
  • Paul S. Dyer


The genus Aspergillus is one of the most widespread groups of fungi on Earth, comprised of about 300–350 species with very diverse lifestyles. Most species produce asexual propagula (conidia) on conidial heads. Despite their ubiquity, a sexual cycle has not yet been identified for most of the aspergilli. Where sexual reproduction is present, species exhibit either homothallic (self fertile) or heterothallic (obligate outcrossing) breeding systems. A parasexual cycle has also been described in some Aspergillus species. As in other fungi, sexual reproduction is governed by mating-type (MAT) genes, which determine sexual identity and are involved in regulating later stages of sexual development. Previous population genetic studies have indicated that some supposedly asexual aspergilli exhibit evidence of a recombining population structure, suggesting the presence of a cryptic sexual cycle. In addition, genome analyses have revealed networks of genes necessary for sexual reproduction in several Aspergillus species, again consistent with latent sexuality in these fungi. Knowledge of MAT gene presence has then successfully been applied to induce sexual reproduction between MAT1-1 and MAT1-2 isolates of certain supposedly asexual aspergilli. Recent progress in understanding the extent and significance of sexual reproduction is described here, with special emphasis on findings that are relevant to clinically important aspergilli.


Aspergillus Population structure Recombination Sexual reproduction Mating-type genes 



Part of the work presented was supported by OTKA Grant Nos. K84122 and K84077, and by the European Union through the Hungary–Serbia IPA Cross-border Cooperation Programme (ToxFreeFeed, HU-SRB/1002/122/062). This research was realised in the frames of TÁMOP 4.2.4. A/2-11-1-2012-0001 “National Excellence Program—Elaborating and operating an inland student and researcher personal support system convergence program”. The project was subsidised by the European Union and co-financed by the European Social Fund. PSD and CMO’G also thank the Wellcome Trust, UK for providing financial support for research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • János Varga
    • 1
  • Gyöngyi Szigeti
    • 1
  • Nikolett Baranyi
    • 1
  • Sándor Kocsubé
    • 1
  • Céline M. O’Gorman
    • 2
  • Paul S. Dyer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science and InformaticsUniversity of SzegedSzegedHungary
  2. 2.School of Life SciencesUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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