Non-Mendelian transmission of accessory chromosomes in fungi

Non-Mendelian transmission has been reported for various genetic elements, ranging from small transposons to entire chromosomes. One prime example of such a transmission pattern are B chromosomes in plants and animals. Accessory chromosomes in fungi are similar to B chromosomes in showing presence/absence polymorphism and being non-essential. How these chromosomes are transmitted during meiosis is however poorly understood-despite their often high impact on the fitness of the host. For several fungal organisms, a non-Mendelian transmission or a mechanistically unique meiotic drive of accessory chromosomes have been reported. In this review, we provide an overview of the possible mechanisms that can cause the non-Mendelian transmission or meiotic drives of fungal accessory chromosomes. We compare processes responsible for the non-Mendelian transmission of accessory chromosomes for different fungal eukaryotes and discuss the structural traits of fungal accessory chromosomes affecting their meiotic transmission. We conclude that research on fungal accessory chromosomes, due to their small size, ease of sequencing, and epigenetic profiling, can complement the study of B chromosomes in deciphering factors that influence and regulate the non-Mendelian transmission of entire chromosomes.


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