The het-c heterokaryon incompatibility gene in Aspergillus niger

Anne D van Diepeningen, Károly Pál, Theo A J van der Lee, Rolf F Hoekstra, Alfons J M Debets

    Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


    Heterokaryon incompatibility among Aspergillus niger strains is a widespread phenomenon that is observed as the inability to form stable heterokaryons. The genetic basis of heterokaryon incompatibility reactions is well established in some sexual filamentous fungi but largely unknown in presumed asexual species, such as A. niger. To test whether the genes that determine heterokaryon incompatibility in Neurospora crassa, such as het-c, vib-1 and pin-c, have a similar function in A. niger, we performed a short in silico search for homologues of these genes in the A. niger and several related genomes. For het-c, pin-c and vib-1 we did indeed identify putative orthologues. We then screened a genetically diverse worldwide collection of incompatible black Aspergilli for polymorphisms in the het-c orthologue. No size variation was observed in the variable het-c indel region that determines the specificity in N. crassa. Sequence comparison showed only minor variation in the number of glutamine coding triplets. However, introduction of one of the three N. crassa alleles (het-c2) in A. niger by transformation resulted in an abortive phenotype, reminiscent of the heterokaryon incompatibility in N. crassa. We conclude that although the genes required are present and the het-c homologue could potentially function as a heterokaryon incompatibility gene, het-c has no direct function in heterokaryon incompatibility in A. niger because the necessary allelic variation is absent.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)222-9
    Number of pages8
    JournalMycological Research
    Issue numberPt 2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009


    • Amino Acid Sequence
    • Aspergillus niger
    • DNA, Fungal
    • Fungal Proteins
    • Genes, Fungal
    • Molecular Sequence Data
    • Neurospora crassa
    • Phenotype
    • Polymorphism, Genetic
    • Sequence Alignment
    • Sequence Analysis, DNA


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