Sex determination in papaya

Ray Ming, Qingyi Yu, Paul H. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Sex determination is an intriguing system in trioecious papaya. Over the past seven decades various hypotheses, based on the knowledge and information available at the time, have been proposed to explain the genetics of the papaya's sex determination. These include a single gene with three alleles, a group of closely linked genes, a genic balance of sex chromosome over autosomes, classical XY chromosomes, and regulatory elements of the flower development pathway. Recent advancements in genomic technology make it possible to characterize the genomic region involved in sex determination at the molecular level. High density linkage mapping validated the hypothesis that predicted recombination suppression at the sex determination locus. Physical mapping and sample sequencing of the non-recombination region led to the conclusion that sex determination is controlled by a pair of primitive sex chromosomes with a small male-specific region (MSY) of the Y chromosome. We now postulate that two sex determination genes control the sex determination pathway. One, a feminizing or stamen suppressor gene, causes stamen abortion before or at flower inception while the other, a masculinizing or carpel suppressor gene, causes carpel abortion at a later flower developmental stage. Detailed physical mapping is beginning to reveal structural details about the sex determination region and sequencing is expected to uncover candidate sex determining genes. Cloning of the sex determination genes and understanding the sex determination process could have profound application in papaya production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-408
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Carica papaya
  • Sex chromosomes
  • Sex determination
  • Sex reversal
  • Y chromosome degeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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