Methodology in Basic Genetics

By Walter J. Burdette | Go to book overview

R. H. Pritchard, Ph.D.


MITOTIC RECOMBINATION in FUNGI

Mitotic recombination is one of a number of processes outside the sexual reproductive cycle leading to new combinations of genetic material, all of which have been discovered, or developed, comparatively recently. They have been called parasexual by Pontecorvo.790 Apart from the obvious significance of these processes to the organisms themselves, each of them has advantages to the biologist as experimental material.

The special value of mitotic recombination is that it permits genetic analysis of organisms which have no sexual cycle or in which analysis through the sexual cycle is impracticable (for example, because of its length or the bulk of the organism, or difficulty in making controlled matings). In addition, certain problems in formal genetics such as assignment of genes to chromosomes, location of centromeres, and recovery of reciprocal products of recombination can be solved more easily through the mitotic cycle even when meiosis occurs and is amenable to study.

Recombination at mitosis was first reported by Stern965 in 1936 in Drosophila. His analysis was limited by the fact that the recombinant tissue could not be isolated and propagated. Significant new developments did not come until the discovery of mitotic recombination in fungi.794 Here the recombinant nuclei give rise to a clone that can be sampled and propagated at will.

The techniques that have been developed for the study of mitotic recombination and the progress that has been made will be described in general terms. Almost all the new developments have come from the fungi, and in particular from Aspergillus nidulans, in which it has been possible to compare meiotic and mitotic recombination side by side.

The recent progress in tissue culture should eventually make possible a considerable

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