Evolution of the bipolar mating system of the mushroom Coprinellus disseminatus from its tetrapolar ancestors involves loss of mating-type-specific pheromone receptor function

Genetics. 2006 Mar;172(3):1877-91. doi: 10.1534/genetics.105.051128. Epub 2006 Feb 3.


Mating incompatibility in mushroom fungi is controlled by the mating-type loci. In tetrapolar species, two unlinked mating-type loci exist (A and B), whereas in bipolar species there is only one locus. The A and B mating-type loci encode homeodomain transcription factors and pheromones and pheromone receptors, respectively. Most mushroom species have a tetrapolar mating system, but numerous transitions to bipolar mating systems have occurred. Here we determined the genes controlling mating type in the bipolar mushroom Coprinellus disseminatus. Through positional cloning and degenerate PCR, we sequenced both the transcription factor and pheromone receptor mating-type gene homologs from C. disseminatus. Only the transcription factor genes segregate with mating type, discounting the hypothesis of genetic linkage between the A and B mating-type loci as the causal origin of bipolar mating behavior. The mating-type locus of C. disseminatus is similar to the A mating-type locus of the model species Coprinopsis cinerea and encodes two tightly linked pairs of homeodomain transcription factor genes. When transformed into C. cinerea, the C. disseminatus A and B homologs elicited sexual reactions like native mating-type genes. Although mating type in C. disseminatus is controlled by only the transcription factor genes, cellular functions appear to be conserved for both groups of genes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agaricales / genetics*
  • Alleles
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genes, Mating Type, Fungal*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Polyploidy*
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Receptors, Pheromone / deficiency
  • Receptors, Pheromone / genetics*
  • Receptors, Pheromone / physiology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • Receptors, Pheromone
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • STE7 protein, S cerevisiae