Fungal Genet Biol 86 , 9-19 (Jan 1 2016)
Members of the Chaetomiaceae are among the most studied fungi in industry and among the most reported in investigations of biomass degradation in both natural and laboratory settings. The family is recognized for production of carbohydrate-active enzymes and antibiotics. Thermophilic species are of special interest for their abilities to produce thermally stable enzymes and to be grown under conditions that are unsuitable for potential contaminant microorganisms. Such interests led to the recent acquisition of genome sequences from several members of the family, including thermophilic species, several of which are reported here for the first time. To date, however, thermophilic fungi in industry have served primarily as parts reservoirs and there has been no good genetic model for species in the family Chaetomiaceae or for thermophiles in general. We report here on the reproductive biology of the thermophile Myceliophthora heterothallica, which is heterothallic, unlike most described species in the family. We confirmed heterothallism genetically by following the segregation of mating type idiomorphs and other markers. We have expanded the number of known sexually-compatible individuals from the original isolates from Indiana and Germany to include several isolates from New Mexico. An interesting aspect of development in M. heterothallica is that ascocarp formation is optimal at approximately 30 degrees C, whereas vegetative growth is optimal at 45 degrees C. Genome sequences obtained from several strains, including isolates of each mating type, revealed mating-type regions whose genes are organized similarly to those of other members of the Sordariales, except for the presence of a truncated version of the mat A-1 (MAT1-1-1) gene in mating-type a (MAT1-2) strains. In M. heterothallica and other Chaetomiaceae, mating-type A (MAT1-1) strains have the full-length version of mat A-1 that is typical of mating-type A strains of diverse Ascomycota, whereas a strains have only the truncated version. This truncated mat A-1 has an intact open reading frame and a derived start codon that is not present in mat A-1 from A strains. The predicted protein contains a region that is conserved across diverse mat A-1 genes, but it lacks the major alpha1 domain, which characterizes proteins in this family and is known to be required for fertility in A strains from other Ascomycota. Finally, we have used genes from M. heterothallica to probe for mating genes in other homothallic and heterothallic members of the Chaetomiaceae. The majority of homothallic species examined have a typical mat A-1,2,3 (MAT1-1-1,2,3) region in addition to an unlinked mat a-1 (MAT1-2-1) gene, reflecting one type of homothallism commonly observed in diverse Ascomycota.