Sporulation in the mold Neurospora crassa can proceed along three very different pathways, leading to the production of three types of spores. Two asexual sporulation pathways that lead to the formation of macroconidia and microconidia involve budding from hyphae by two different mechanisms. A much more complex sexual reproductive pathway involves the formation of a fruiting body called a perithecium, in which meiosis takes place and ascospores are formed in sac-like cells called asci. Numerous mutations exist that affect these developmental pathways and genes have been isolated that are expressed preferentially during sporulation. The Neurospora sporulation pathways offer a simple system with which to study mechanisms and regulation of development that are usually obscured by complex cell-cell interactions involved in animal and plant development.
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