Sexual selection in mushroom-forming basidiomycetes

B.P.S. Nieuwenhuis, A.J.M. Debets, D.K. Aanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


We expect that sexual selection may play an important role in the evolution of mushroom-forming basidiomycete fungi. Although these fungi do not have separate sexes, they do play female and male roles: the acceptance and the donation of a nucleus, respectively. The primary mycelium (monokaryon) of basidiomycete fungi, growing from a germinating sexual spore, is hermaphroditic, but it loses female function upon the acceptance of a second nucleus. The resulting dikaryon with two different nuclei in each cell retains a male potential as both nuclei can fertilize receptive mycelia. We tested the occurrence of sexual selection in the model species of mushroom-forming basidiomycetes, Schizophyllum commune, by pairing monokaryons with fully compatible dikaryons. In most pairings, we found a strong bias for one of the two nuclei although both were compatible with the monokaryon when paired alone. This shows that sexual selection can occur in mushroom-forming basidiomycetes. Since the winning nucleus of a dikaryon occasionally varied depending on the receiving monokaryon, we infer that sexual selection can operate through choosiness of the receiving individual (analogous to female choice). However, in other cases the same nucleus won, irrespective of the receiving monokaryon, suggesting that competition between the two nuclei of the donating mycelium (analogous to male–male competition) might also play a role
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-157
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1702
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • dikaryotic-homokaryotic matings
  • schizophyllum-commune
  • nuclear migration
  • inheritance
  • evolution
  • patterns
  • systems
  • sexes


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