Also found in: Dictionary, Medical, Wikipedia.


Cell with two or more nuclei originating from different cell types or species.
A bi- or multinucleate cell having genetically different kinds of nuclei.



a cell that has two or more nuclei that differ in hereditary (genetic) properties. Heterokaryons are widespread in fungi, in which they arise from the fusion of the hyphae and the passing of the nuclei from one hypha to another. In the heterokaryon the content of nuclei of various types can disguise the biochemical defects inherent in one or another type. Therefore, heterokaryon can be grown on a nutrient medium that is insufficient for every type of nucleus in isolation. If during the fusion of hyphae the cell receives genetically identical nuclei, it is called a homokaryon.

References in periodicals archive ?
Heterokaryon formation and parasexual recombination between vegetatively incompatible lineages in a population of the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica.
Molecular genetics of heterokaryon incompatibility in filamentous ascomycetes.
niger is an asexual fungus, segregants of the two parental strains can be obtained by forced haploidization of heterozygous diploids that arise spontaneously in a heterokaryon (Pontecorvo et al.
If the two conspecifics are vegetatively compatible, they will fuse by a process called anastomosis, and form a heterokaryon.
Within such groups heterokaryon formation and the exchange of genetic material are possible, but not between groups.
If the function of vegetative incompatibility is [TABULAR DATA OMITTED] to prevent the formation of heterokaryons, the widespread occurrence of vegetative incompatibility suggests that the disadvantages of heterokaryon formation will, on the average, be greater than the advantages.
Furthermore, we explore the fate of mutants that are Heterokaryon Self-Incompatible or Omnicompatible.
In this case, recombination between incompatibility genes is impossible, because heterokaryon formation between VCGs is impossible by definition.
The h allele exploits H in a heterokaryon and can therefore be regarded as parasitic.