Sex chromosomes in flowering plants

Ray Ming, Jianping Wang, Paul H. Moore, Andrew H. Paterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sex chromosomes in dioecious and polygamous plants evolved as a mechanism for ensuring outcrossing to increase genetic variation in the offspring. Sex specificity has evolved in 75% of plant families by male sterile or female sterile mutations, but well-defined heteromorphic sex chromosomes are known in only four plant families. A pivotal event in sex chromosome evolution, suppression of recombination at the sex determination locus and its neighboring regions, might be lacking in most dioecious species. However, once recombination is suppressed around the sex determination region, an incipient Y chromosome starts to differentiate by accumulating deleterious mutations, transposable element insertions, chromosomal rearrangements, and selection for male-specific alleles. Some plant species have recently evolved homomorphic sex chromosomes near the inception of this evolutionary process, while a few other species have sufficiently diverged heteromorphic sex chromosomes. Comparative analysis of carefully selected plant species together with some fish species promises new insights into the origins of sex chromosomes and the selective forces driving their evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-150
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of botany
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Angiosperm
  • Sex chromosome
  • Sex determination
  • Suppression of recombination
  • Y chromosome degeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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