Cytoplasmic mixing, not nuclear coexistence, can explain somatic incompatibility in basidiomycetes

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Nonself recognition leading to somatic incompatibility (SI) is commonly used by mycologists to distinguish fungal individuals. Despite this, the process remains poorly understood in basidiomycetes as all current models of SI are based on genetic and molecular research in ascomycete fungi. Ascomycete fungi are mainly found in a monokaryotic stage, with a single type of haploid nuclei, and only briefly during mating do two genomes coexist in heterokaryotic cells. The sister phylum, Basidiomycota, differs in several relevant aspects. Basidiomycete fungi have an extended heterokaryotic stage, and SI is generally observed between heterokaryons instead of between homokaryons. Additionally, considerable nuclear migration occurs during a basidiomycete mating reaction, introducing a nucleus into a resident homokaryon with cytoplasmic mixing limited to the fused or neighboring cells. To accommodate these differences, we describe a basidiomycete model for nonself recognition using post‐translational modification, based on a reader‐writer system as found in other organisms. This post‐translational modification combined with nuclear migration allows for the coexistence of two genomes in one individual while maintaining nonself recognition during all life stages. Somewhat surprisingly, this model predicts localized cell death during mating, which is consistent with previous observations but differs from the general assumptions of basidiomycete mating. This model will help guide future research into the mechanisms behind basidiomycete nonself recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1248
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2021


  • Allorecognition
  • Basidiomycete
  • Nonself recognition
  • Somatic incompatibility
  • Vegetative incompatibility


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