Development of male-specific markers and identification of sex reversal mutants in papaya

Zhenyang Liao, Qingyi Yu, Ray Ming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Papaya is a productive and nutritious fruit grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions worldwide. It is polygamous with three sex types: female, male and hermaphrodite. Sex determination in papaya is controlled by an XY sex chromosome system with two slightly different Y chromosomes, Y for males and Yh for hermaphrodites. Comparative analysis of the hermaphrodite-specific region of Yh chromosome (HSY) and male-specific region of Y chromosome (MSY) revealed 99.6% sequence identity, which explains why DNA markers that amplify for both males and hermaphrodites have easily been developed, but not for the male trait specifically. We examined the 0.4% sequence differences, and found 1887 indels and 21,088 SNPs between MSY and HSY. The vast majority of indels are single nucleotide or few base pairs. A large male-specific retrotransposon insertion of 8396 bp was used to develop two papaya male-specific markers, PMSM1 and PMSM2 that amplify 585 and 548 bp fragments, respectively. These two markers were tested in 11 gynodioecious and four dioecious varieties along with autosomal DNA marker 71E and male/hermaphrodite marker W11, and the results showed clear separation of male from hermaphrodite and female. PMSM1 and PMSM2 were also used to test the sex type of six sex male-to-hermaphrodite reversal mutants which are crucial materials for validating candidate genes for sex determination in papaya. Our result showed all six mutants were positive for the male-specific markers. These male-specific markers can be used to distinguish gynodioecious and dioecious cultivars in papaya seed market, and facilitate genetic and genomic research for papaya improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number53
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Carica papaya
  • Male-specific region of Y chromosome (MSY)
  • Sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR)
  • Sex determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture

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