Tomoya Okabe, Takuya Katayama, Taoning Mo, Noriko Mori, Feng Jie Jin, Ikuo Fujii, Kazuhiro Iwashita, Katsuhiko Kitamoto, Jun-ichi Maruyama


Aspergillus oryzae is an industrially important filamentous fungus used for Japanese traditional food fermentation and heterologous protein production. Although cell fusion is important for heterokaryon formation and sexual/parasexual reproduction required for cross breeding, knowledge on cell fusion and heterokaryon incompatibility in A. oryzae is limited because of low cell fusion frequency. Therefore, we aimed to develop a BiFC system to specifically visualise fused cells and facilitate the analysis of cell fusion in A. oryzae. The cell fusion ability and morphology of 15 A. oryzae strains were investigated using heterodimerising proteins LZA and LZB fused with split green fluorescence protein. Morphological investigation of fused cells revealed that cell fusion occurred mainly as conidial anastomosis during the early growth stage. Self-fusion abilities were detected in most industrial A. oryzae strains, but only a few strain pairs showed non-self fusion. Protoplast fusion assay demonstrated that almost all the pairs capable of non-self fusion were capable of heterokaryon formation and vice versa, thus providing the first evidence of heterokaryon incompatibility in A. oryzae. The BiFC system developed in this study provides an effective method in studying morphology of fused cells and heterokaryon incompatibility in the filamentous fungal species with low cell fusion efficiency.

Paper Information

: Scientific Reports
: 10.1038/s41598-018-21323-y