Aspergillus: Sex and Recombination

János Varga, Gyöngyi Szigeti, Nikolett Baranyi, Sándor Kocsubé, Céline M. O’Gorman, Paul S. Dyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


The genus Aspergillus is one of the most widespread groups of fungi on Earth, comprised of about 300–350 species with very diverse lifestyles. Most species produce asexual propagula (conidia) on conidial heads. Despite their ubiquity, a sexual cycle has not yet been identified for most of the aspergilli. Where sexual reproduction is present, species exhibit either homothallic (self fertile) or heterothallic (obligate outcrossing) breeding systems. A parasexual cycle has also been described in some Aspergillus species. As in other fungi, sexual reproduction is governed by mating-type (MAT) genes, which determine sexual identity and are involved in regulating later stages of sexual development. Previous population genetic studies have indicated that some supposedly asexual aspergilli exhibit evidence of a recombining population structure, suggesting the presence of a cryptic sexual cycle. In addition, genome analyses have revealed networks of genes necessary for sexual reproduction in several Aspergillus species, again consistent with latent sexuality in these fungi. Knowledge of MAT gene presence has then successfully been applied to induce sexual reproduction between MAT1-1 and MAT1-2 isolates of certain supposedly asexual aspergilli. Recent progress in understanding the extent and significance of sexual reproduction is described here, with special emphasis on findings that are relevant to clinically important aspergilli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-362
Number of pages14
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 20 2014



  • Aspergillus
  • Mating-type genes
  • Population structure
  • Recombination
  • Sexual reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)

Cite this

Varga, J., Szigeti, G., Baranyi, N., Kocsubé, S., O’Gorman, C. M., & Dyer, P. S. (2014). Aspergillus: Sex and Recombination. Mycopathologia, 178(5-6), 349-362.