Department of Plant, Soil & Insect Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 01003.
Nitrate-nonutilizing (nit) mutants were recovered for the first time from 21 isolates of Sclerotinia homoeocarpa collected in the United States. Mutants were selected from shredded mycelium of each isolate when cultured on water agar medium amended with 4% (wt/vol) potassium chlorate. The mutants could be classified into three phenotypes: nit1, nit3, and NitM, based on their growth on minimal medium (Czapek solution agar) supplemented with NaNO2 or hypoxanthine. Complementary heterokaryons were observed in pairings between different phenotypes of nit mutants derived from compatible isolates, but not in self-fusions or pairings between incompatible isolates. The vigor of prototrophic growth varied with isolates and mutant phenotypes. Strong and continuous heterokaryons, as well as weak and spontaneous ones, formed depending on pairings of nit mutants. Stable heterokaryons between compatible isolates, but apoptotic reactions between incompatible isolates, were observed immediately after hyphal fusion under the epifluorescence microscope. The 21 isolates used in this study, which were previously assigned into 11 different vegetative compatibility groups (VCGs) based on the formation of a barrage zone at the contact site of paired isolates on complete medium (potato dextrose agar), were regrouped into five VCGs based on heterokaryon formation between nit mutants on minimal medium.