Natural variation of heterokaryon incompatibility gene het-c in Podospora anserina reveals diversifying selection

Eric Bastiaans, Alfons J M Debets, Duur K Aanen, Anne D van Diepeningen, Sven J Saupe, Mathieu Paoletti

    Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    In filamentous fungi, allorecognition takes the form of heterokaryon incompatibility, a cell death reaction triggered when genetically distinct hyphae fuse. Heterokaryon incompatibility is controlled by specific loci termed het-loci. In this article, we analyzed the natural variation in one such fungal allorecognition determinant, the het-c heterokaryon incompatibility locus of the filamentous ascomycete Podospora anserina. The het-c locus determines an allogenic incompatibility reaction together with two unlinked loci termed het-d and het-e. Each het-c allele is incompatible with a specific subset of the het-d and het-e alleles. We analyzed variability at the het-c locus in a population of 110 individuals, and in additional isolates from various localities. We identified a total of 11 het-c alleles, which define 7 distinct incompatibility specificity classes in combination with the known het-d and het-e alleles. We found that the het-c allorecognition gene of P. anserina is under diversifying selection. We find a highly unequal allele distribution of het-c in the population, which contrasts with the more balanced distribution of functional groups of het-c based on their allorecognition function. One explanation for the observed het-c diversity in the population is its function in allorecognition. However, alleles that are most efficient in allorecognition are rare. An alternative and not exclusive explanation for the observed diversity is that het-c is involved in pathogen recognition. In Arabidopsis thaliana, a homolog of het-c is a pathogen effector target, supporting this hypothesis. We hypothesize that the het-c diversity in P. anserina results from both its functions in pathogen-defense, and allorecognition.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)962-74
    Number of pages13
    JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


    • Amino Acid Sequence
    • Carrier Proteins
    • Codon
    • Fungal Proteins
    • Gene Frequency
    • Genetic Loci
    • Microbial Interactions
    • Molecular Sequence Data
    • Podospora
    • Polymorphism, Genetic
    • Selection, Genetic


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