Live-cell imaging of vegetative hyphal fusion in Neurospora crassa

Fungal Genet Biol. 2002 Oct;37(1):109-19. doi: 10.1016/s1087-1845(02)00035-x.


The process of hyphal fusion (anastomosis) in growing colonies of Neurospora crassa, stained with the membrane-selective dyes FM1-43 and FM4-64, was visualized by confocal microscopy. Time-lapse, live-cell imaging illustrated the dynamics of hyphal growth and anastomosis during its pre-contact, contact and post-contact, and post-fusion stages. Fusion-competent hyphae were morphologically distinct and exhibited remote sensing, resulting in branch initiation and/or re-direction of growth to facilitate contact between participating hyphae. A stained Spitzenkörper was often observed where fusion-competent hyphae met. It is suggested that this structure contains secretory vesicles responsible for the delivery of cell adhesion molecules at the point of contact, cell wall synthesizing enzymes for the swelling growth of fused hyphal tips, and digestive enzymes required for fusion pore formation. Dramatic changes in cytoplasmic flow frequently occurred between the participating hyphae following fusion. After anastomosis has taken place, septa commonly formed close to the fusion site. The live-cell imaging reported here has clearly shown the complexity of the hyphal homing and fusion process. The control and consequences of repeated anastomoses within a mycelium must be as complex as the process itself.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fungal Proteins / physiology
  • Hyphae / physiology*
  • Membrane Fusion
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Mycological Typing Techniques
  • Neurospora crassa / genetics
  • Neurospora crassa / growth & development
  • Neurospora crassa / physiology*
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins