A barrage is a line or zone of demarcation that may develop at the interface where genetically different fungi meet. Barrage formation represents a type of nonself recognition that has often been attributed to the heterokaryon incompatibility system, which limits the co-occurrence of genetically different nuclei in the same cytoplasm during the asexual phase of the life cycle. While the genetic basis of the heterokaryon incompatibility system is well characterized in Neurospora crassa, barrage formation has not been thoroughly investigated. In addition to the previously described Standard Mating Reaction barrage, we identified at least three types of barrage in N. crassa; dark line, clear zone, and raised aggregate of hyphae. Barrage formation in N. crassa was evident only when paired mycelia were genetically different and only when confrontations were carried out on low nutrient growth media. Barrages were observed to occur in some cases between strains that were identical at all major heterokaryon incompatibility (het) loci and the mating-type locus, mat, which acts as a heterokaryon incompatibility locus during the vegetative phase of N. crassa. We also found examples where barrages did not form between strains that had genetic differences at het-6, het-c, and/or mat. Taken together, these results suggest that the genetic control of barrage formation in N. crassa can operate independently from that of heterokaryon incompatibility and mating type. Surprisingly, barrages were not observed to form when wild-collected strains of N. crassa were paired. However, an increase in the frequency of pairings that produced barrages was observed among strains obtained by back-crossing wild strains to laboratory strains, or through successive rounds of inbreeding of wild-derived strains, suggesting the presence in wild strains of genes that suppress barrage.

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Fungal Genetics and Biology
Department of Biology

Micali, C.O. (Cristina O.), & Smith, M. (2003). On the independence of barrage formation and heterokaryon incompatibility in Neurospora crassa. Fungal Genetics and Biology, 38(2), 209–219. doi:10.1016/S1087-1845(02)00533-9