Conidia of Aspergillus niger are produced on conidiophores. Here, maturation of conidia on these asexual reproductive structures was studied. Pigmented conidia that had developed on conidiophores for 2, 5, and 8 days were similarly resistant to heat and were metabolically active as shown by CO2 release and conversion of the metabolic probe Tempone. A total number of 645–2421 genes showed a ⩾2-fold change in expression when 2-day-old conidia were compared to 5- and 8-day-old spores. Melanin was extracted more easily from the cell wall of 2-day-old conidia when compared to the older spores. In addition, mannitol content and germination rate of the 2-day-old conidia were higher. Dispersal efficiency by water was lower in the case of the 8-day-old conidia but no differences were observed in dispersal by wind and a hydrophobic moving object. These data and the fact that only a minor fraction of the conidia on a conidiophore were dispersed in the assays imply that a single colony of A. niger releases a heterogeneous population of conidia. This heterogeneity would provide a selective advantage in environments with rapidly changing conditions such as availability of water.
- Asexual reproduction