In the filamentous ascomycete Ashbya gossypii polarity establishment at sites of germ tube and lateral branch emergence depends on homologues of Saccharomyces cerevisiae factors controlling bud site selection and bud emergence. Maintenance of polar growth involves homologues of well-known polarity factors of budding yeast. To achieve the much higher rates of sustained polar surface expansion of hyphae compared to mainly non-polarly growing yeast buds five important alterations had to evolve. Permanent presence of the polarity machinery at a confined area in the rapidly expanding hyphal tip, increased cytoplasmic space with a much enlarged ER surface for generating secretory vesicles, efficient directed transport of secretory vesicles to and accumulation at the tip, increased capacity of the exocytosis system to process these vesicles, and an efficient endocytosis system for membrane and polarity factor recycling adjacent to the zone of exocytosis. Morphological, cell biological, and molecular aspects of this evolution are discussed based on experiments performed within the past 10 y.
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