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Sex in Fungi: Molecular Determination and Evolutionary Implications

Editors: Joseph Heitman1, James W. Kronstad2, John W. Taylor3, Lorna A. Casselton4
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Affiliations: 1: Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, 27710; 2: The Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 2Z4, Canada; 3: Department of plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-3102; 4: Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3RB, United Kingdom Washington, D.C.
Content Type: Monograph
Format: Electronic, Hardcover
Publication Year: 2007

Category: Fungi and Fungal Pathogenesis

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Sexual reproduction is ubiquitous in nature. As the engine that drives genetic diversity, sex accelerates adaptation and removes deleterious mutations. As such, it plays a central role in the origin and success of species. Studies on the major groups within the fungal kingdom have provided significant and wide-ranging contributions on the molecular bases by which sexual identity and reproduction are defined and controlled. not only encompasses the current state of knowledge, but also serves as an invaluable resource that will guide new research on these systems and organisms.

Since John Raper’s pioneering studies with the basidiomycetes in the 1960s, and the elegant work of Ira Herskowitz with , genetic, molecular, and genomic analyses of fungal sexual reproduction have helped to illuminate how sexual cycles function in, as well as drive, evolution. The biological principles involved are profound and can serve as general paradigms for how cell identity is established and maintained, how cells sense and respond to extracellular cues, the role of genetic rearrangements in generating changes in cell identity and fate, and how genomic regions governing sexual identity are organized and evolved.

Drawing on the great advances made over the past 10 years, this volume provides illuminating insights into the molecular details of cell-type specification, mating-type switching, pheromone perception and signaling, and cellular and nuclear fusion. The tremendous impact of comparative genomics on the analysis of mating is evident in many of the chapters in this book. This volume includes chapters on both model and pathogenic fungi as well as a section that looks forward to what we hope to learn in other fungal lineages. The book concludes with a selection of chapters on the implications of sex, and studies of experimental evolution, in a broader evolutionary context.

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