- Genetic Basis of Self-Incompatibility in the Lichen-Forming Fungus Lobaria pulmonaria and Skewed Frequency Distribution of Mating-Type Idiomorphs: Implications for Conservation (2012)
- Fungal populations that reproduce sexually are likely to be genetically more diverse and have a higher adaptive potential than asexually reproducing populations. Mating systems of fungal species can be self-incompatible, requiring the presence of isolates of different mating-type genes for sexual reproduction to occur, or self-compatible, requiring only one. Understanding the distribution of mating-type genes in populations can help to assess the potential of self-incompatible species to reproduce sexually. In the locally threatened epiphytic lichen-forming fungus Lobaria pulmonaria (L.) Hoffm., low frequency of sexual reproduction is likely to limit the potential of populations to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Our study provides direct evidence of self-incompatibility (heterothallism) in L. pulmonaria. It can thus be hypothesized that sexual reproduction in small populations might be limited by an unbalanced distribution of mating-type genes. We therefore assessed neutral genetic diversity (using microsatellites) and mating-type ratio in 27 lichen populations (933 individuals). We found significant differences in the frequency of the two mating types in 13 populations, indicating a lower likelihood of sexual reproduction in these populations. This suggests that conservation translocation activities aiming at maximizing genetic heterogeneity in threatened and declining populations should take into account not only presence of fruiting bodies in transplanted individuals, but also the identity and balanced representation of mating-type genes.