The homothallic ascomycete fungus Gibberella zeae is an important pathogen on major cereal crops. The objective of this study was to determine whether meiotic silencing occurs in G. zeae. Cytological studies demonstrated that GFP and RFP-fusion proteins were not detected during meiosis, both in heterozygous outcrosses and homozygous selfings. The deletion of rsp-1, a homologue used for studies on meiotic silencing of Neurospora crassa, triggered abnormal ascospores from selfing, but outcrosses between the mutant and wild-type strain resulted in some ascospores with mutant phenotype (low occurrence of ascus dominance). When the ectopic mutants that carried an additional copy of rsp-1 were selfed, they primarily produced ascospores with normal shape but a few ascospores (0.23 %) were abnormal, in which both endogenous and ectopically integrated genes contained numerous point mutations. The ectopic mutants showed low occurrence of ascus dominance in outcrosses with strains that carried the wild-type allele. Approximately 10 % of ascospores were abnormal but all of the single-ascospore isolates produced normal-shaped ascospores from selfing. However, no ascus dominance was observed when the mutants were outcrossed with a sad-1 deletion mutant, which lacks the putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase essential for meiotic silencing in N. crassa. All results were consistent with those generated from an additional gene, roa, required for ascospore morphogenesis. This study demonstrated that G. zeae possesses a functional meiotic silencing mechanism which is triggered by unpaired DNA, as in N. crassa.
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