Ustilago maydis Mating Hyphae Orient Their Growth toward Pheromone Sources

Fungal Genet Biol. 1996 Dec;20(4):299-312. doi: 10.1006/fgbi.1996.0044.


Snetselaar, K. M., Bolker, M., and Kahmann, R. 1996. Ustilago maydis mating hyphae orient their growth toward pheromone sources. Fungal Genetics and Biology 20, 299-312. When small drops of Ustilago maydis sporidia were placed 100-200 μm apart on agar surfaces and covered with paraffin oil, sporidia from one drop formed thin hyphae that grew in a zig-zag fashion toward the other drop if it contained sporidia making the appropriate pheromone. For example, a2b2 mating hyphae grew toward a1b1 and a1b2 mating hyphae, and the filaments eventually fused tip to tip. Time-lapse photography indicated that the mating hyphae can rapidly change orientation in response to nearby compatible sporidia. When exposed to pheromone produced by cells in an adjacent drop, haploid sporidia with the a2 allele began elongating before sporidia with the a1 allele. Sporidia without functional pheromone genes responded to pheromone although they did not induce a response, and sporidia without pheromone receptors induced formation of mating hyphae although they did not form mating hyphae. Diploid sporidia heterozygous at b but not at a formed straight, rigid, aerial filaments when exposed to pheromone produced by the appropriate haploid sporidia. Again, the a2a2b1b2 strain formed filaments more quickly than the a1a1b1b2 strain. Taken together, these results suggest that the a2 pheromone diffuses less readily or is degraded more quickly than the a1 pheromone.