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Fusarium oxysporum forma specialis cubense is a soilborne phytopathogen that infects banana. The true evolutionary identity of this so called species, Fusarium oxysporum, is still unknown. Many techniques have been applied in order to gain insight for the observed genetic diversity of this species. The current classification system is based on vegetative compatibility groups (VCG's). Vegetative compatibility is a self non-self recognition system in which only those belonging to a VCG can form stable heterokaryons, cells containing two distinct nuclei. Heterokaryons in turn, are formed from hypha! anastomosis, the fusion of two hyphae. Furthermore, subsequent to heterokaryon formation potential mechanisms exist which may generate genetic variability. One is through viral transfer upon hyphal anastomosis. The other mechanism is a form of mitotic recombination referred to as the parasexual cycle. Very little research has been performed to directly the cellular events; hypha! anastomosis, heterokaryon formation, and the parasexual cycle in Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense. The purpose of this research was to design and use methods which would allow for the detection of hypha! anastomosis and heterokaryon formation, as well as any characteristics surrounding this event, within and between VCG's in Foe. First, some general growth properties were recorded: the number of nuclei per hypha, the size ofthe hyphal tip cell, the size of the cell adjacent to the hypha! tip (pre-tip) cell, and the number of cells to the first branch point. Second, four methods were designed in order to assay hyphal anastomosis and heterokaryon formation: 1) pairings on membrane: phase or brightfield microscopy, 2) pairings on membrane: fluorescence microscopy, 3) spore crosses: fluorescence microscopy, and 4) double picks in fractionated MMA. All of these methods were promtsmg.



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