Degeneration of the Nonrecombining Regions in the Mating-Type Chromosomes of the Anther-Smut Fungi

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Abstract

Dimorphic mating-type chromosomes in fungi are excellent models for understanding the genomic consequences of recombination suppression. Their suppressed recombination and reduced effective population size are expected to limit the efficacy of natural selection, leading to genomic degeneration. Our aim was to identify the sequences of the mating-type chromosomes (a1 and a2) of the anther-smut fungi and to investigate degeneration in their nonrecombining regions. We used the haploid a1Microbotryum lychnidis-dioicae reference genome sequence. The a1 and a2 mating-type chromosomes were both isolated electrophoretically and sequenced. Integration with restriction-digest optical maps identified regions of recombination and nonrecombination in the mating-type chromosomes. Genome sequence data were also obtained for 12 other Microbotryum species. We found strong evidence of degeneration across the genus in the nonrecombining regions of the mating-type chromosomes, with significantly higher rates of nonsynonymous substitution (dN/dS) than in nonmating-type chromosomes or in recombining regions of the mating-type chromosomes. The nonrecombining regions of the mating-type chromosomes also showed high transposable element content, weak gene expression, and gene losses. The levels of degeneration did not differ between the a1 and a2 mating-type chromosomes, consistent with the lack of homogametic/heterogametic asymmetry between them, and contrasting with X/Y or Z/W sex chromosomes.

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