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Characterization of the reproductive mode and life cycle of the whitish truffle T. borchii

Belfiori, Beatrice, Riccioni, Claudia, Paolocci, Francesco, Rubini, Andrea
Mycorrhiza 2016 v.26 no.6 pp. 515-527
ascomata, loci, host plants, Tuber melanosporum, expressed sequence tags, hyphae, chromosome walking, Alternaria brassicicola, sexual reproduction, mycorrhizae, mycelium, fruiting, truffles
Truffles are the fruiting structures of ascomycetes in the genus Tuber. Because of their economic importance, truffles have been cultivated for many years using artificially inoculated host plants. Nevertheless, the life cycle and reproductive mode of Tuber spp. are still poorly understood. In filamentous ascomycetes, sexual reproduction is genetically controlled by the mating-type (MAT) locus. Among Tuber spp., the MAT locus has been recently characterized in the black truffles Tuber melanosporum and Tuber indicum. Here, by using sequence information derived from these species and from a Tuber borchii expressed sequence tag (EST) showing similarity to the mat1 gene of Alternaria brassicicola, we embarked on a chromosome-walking procedure to sequence the complete MAT region of T. borchii. This fungus produces highly commercialized whitish truffles and represents a model species for addressing basic questions concerning the life cycle of Tuber spp. We show that T. borchii is heterothallic, as its MAT locus is organized into two idiomorphs, each harbored by different mycelial strains. The alignment of the MAT locus from black truffles and T. borchii reveals that extensive sequence rearrangements and inversions occurred between these species. Moreover, by coupling mating-type analyses to karyological observation, we show that mycelia isolated from ascocarps and mycorrhizae are formed by homokaryotic hyphae.