Mitochondrial inheritance during a parasexual cycle in fusarium oxysporum forma specialis cubense

Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

David N. Kuhn

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Stephen A. Winkle

Third Advisor's Name

Martin L. Tracey

Fourth Advisor's Name

Randy C. Ploetz

Fifth Advisor's Name

Gerald Murison

Date of Defense



Fusarium oxysporum is a diverse, asexual fungal species composed of both saprophytic and pathogenic members. The destructive phytopathogens are classified into formae speciales based on the host species and into vegetative compatibility groups (VCGs) based on the ability of two individuals to form heterokaryons. Parasexuality, a nonsexual mode of genetic exchange unique to some fungi has been demonstrated in the laboratory in Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (FOC). The goals of this dissertation were threefold: to ascertain whether mitochondrial (mt) markers can distinguish race differences in FOC; to determine genetic relatedness of VCGs in FOC based on a mt marker; and to discover the mode of mt inheritance during a parasexual cycle.

Band patterns produced by electrophoresis of Hae III digested genomic DNA indicated that VCG differences, not race, could be discerned by mtDNA analysis. Primers were designed to amplify a mt intergenic locus which served as a molecular marker to screen 55 strains of FOC in 16 VCGs using both single strand conformational polymorphism and DNA sequencing. Based on homogeneity of the locus, strains were assigned to seven mitotypes, a classification unit which I introduced and found informative for grouping related VCGs.

To determine the mode of mt inheritance during a parasexual cycle, strains in different mitotypes were paired. Mitochondrial inheritance in all hybrid progeny was found to be uniparental. I speculated that if a parasexual cycle occurs in nature there would be greater variation in the nuclear genome than the mt. This could produce multiple VCGs within a mitotype, a phenomenon observed in FOC. Based on these data, I concluded that parasexuality in nature may contribute to the diversity observed in Fusarium oxysporum.



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