Quantification of outcrossing events in haploid fungi using microsatellite markers

05 May 2020

Species in genera of the fungal family Ceratocystidaceae are known to have different mating strategies, including heterothallism and homothallism. Of these, species of Ceratocystis, typified by the pathogen Ceratocystis fimbriata all undergo unidirectional mating-type switching. This implies that the pathogens possess the ability to self, but also to undergo sexual outcrossing between isolates of different mating types. In this study, we extended the recently developed microsatellite-based technique to determine the extent to which outcrossing occurs in ascospore masses of haploid fungi to two field collections of Ceratocystis albifundus. In this way, the role of reproductive strategies in shaping population structure and diversity could be better understood. Results showed that a high frequency of outcrossing occurs in isolates of the pathogen from both non-native and native areas. This explains the high level of genetic diversity previously observed in this population despite the fact that this pathogen has the ability to self.