The evolution of non-reciprocal nuclear exchange in mushrooms as a consequence of genomic conflict

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Heterothallic mushrooms accomplish sex by exchanging nuclei without cytoplasm. Hyphal fusions occur between haploid mycelia resulting from germinated spores and subsequent reciprocal nuclear exchange without cytoplasmic mixing. The resulting dikaryon is therefore a cytoplasmic mosaic with uniformly distributed nuclei (two in each cell). Cytoplasmic inheritance is doubly uniparental: both mated monokaryons can potentially transmit their cytoplasm to the sexual spores, but normally only a single type per spore is found. Intracellular competition between mitochondria is thus limited, but at the dikaryon level, the two types of mitochondria compete over transmission. This creates the conditions for genomic conflict: within the dikaryon, a selfish mitochondrial mutant with increased relative transmission can be favoured, but selection between dikaryons will act against such a mitochondrial mutant. Moreover, because nuclear fitness is directly dependent on dikaryon fitness, a reduction in dikaryon fitness directly conflicts with nuclear interests. We propose that genomic conflict explains the frequent occurrence of non-reciprocal nuclear exchange in mushrooms. With non-reciprocal exchange, one monokaryon donates a nucleus and the other accepts it, but not vice versa as in the typical life cycle. We propose a model where non-reciprocal nuclear exchange is primarily driven by mitochondria inducing male sterility and the evolution of nuclear suppressors
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1235-1241
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1545
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • basidiomycete coprinus-cinereus
  • mitochondrial-dna
  • uniparental inheritance
  • pleurotus-ostreatus
  • podospora-anserina
  • pheromone
  • specificities
  • homokaryons
  • speciation
  • mechanisms


Dive into the research topics of 'The evolution of non-reciprocal nuclear exchange in mushrooms as a consequence of genomic conflict'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this