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Poster: Biology & Disease Mgmt: Mycology


Understanding sexual fertility in Aspergillus flavus through analysis of F1 progeny
R. GELL (1), I. Carbone (1) (1) Center for Integrated Fungal Research, North Carolina State University, U.S.A.

Aspergillus flavus produces aflatoxin, which is a constant threat and economic burden to corn and oil seed crops worldwide. In order to manage this problem more cost effectively, a greater understanding of A. flavus biology and genetics is required. One important question is how genetic information moves between strains. A. flavus, previously thought of as only asexual, has recently been found to undergo sexual reproduction both in laboratory crosses and in the field. During the mating process, the sclerotium, a survival structure, of one strain acts as the female parent providing both the mitochondria and a matrix for the ascocarps and progeny to grow, while a spore or propagule from a second strain fertilizes as the male. The fertility of mating pairs is highly variable and influenced by the directionality of the cross. We are examining crosses that exhibit high fertility with one direction, but low fertility when male and female parents are reversed. Genome wide polymorphism screening using double digest Restriction Associated DNA sequencing (ddRADseq) was performed for 36 progeny from each direction of two biased crosses. These data are being used to provide an understanding of genetic inheritance and recombination in A. flavus and serve as genetic markers for mapping genomic regions that may bias fertility. By understanding these aspects of A. flavus genetics, we create opportunities to utilize strain fertility in the selection of biological control agents.