Comparative transcriptomic analysis of male and females in the dioecious weeds Amaranthus palmeri and Amaranthus tuberculatus

Lucas K. Bobadilla, Yousoon Baek, Patrick J. Tranel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus (Moq.) Sauer) and Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri S. Wats.) are two dioecious and important weed species in the world that can rapidly evolve herbicide-resistance traits. Understanding these two species' dioecious and sex-determination mechanisms could open opportunities for new tools to control them. This study aims to identify the differential expression patterns between males and females in A. tuberculatus and A. palmeri. Multiple analyses, including differential expression, co-expression, and promoter analyses, used RNA-seq data from multiple tissue types to identify putative essential genes for sex determination in both dioecious species. Results: Genes were identified as potential key players for sex determination in A. palmeri. Genes PPR247, WEX, and ACD6 were differentially expressed between the sexes and located at scaffold 20 within or near the male-specific Y (MSY) region. Multiple genes involved with flower development were co-expressed with these three genes. For A. tuberculatus, no differentially expressed gene was identified within the MSY region; however, multiple autosomal class B and C genes were identified as differentially expressed and possible candidate genes. Conclusions: This is the first study comparing the global expression profile between males and females in dioecious weedy Amaranthus species. Results narrow down putative essential genes for sex-determination in A. palmeri and A. tuberculatus and also strengthen the hypothesis of two different evolutionary events for dioecy within the genus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number339
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Dioecy
  • Palmer amaranth
  • Reproduction
  • RNA-seq
  • Sex-determinant region
  • Sex-determination
  • Waterhemp
  • Weeds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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