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      Sexual dimorphism in white campion: deletion on the Y chromosome results in a floral asexual phenotype.

      Genomics
      Chromosome Deletion, Crosses, Genetic, Genes, Plant, Genetic Testing, In Situ Hybridization, Metaphase, physiology, Microscopy, Electron, Scanning, Models, Genetic, Mutagenesis, Phenotype, Plant Development, Plants, genetics, ultrastructure, Sex Characteristics, Y Chromosome

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          Abstract

          White campion is a dioecious plant with heteromorphic X and Y sex chromosomes. In male plants, a filamentous structure replaces the pistil, while in female plants the stamens degenerate early in flower development. Asexual (asx) mutants, cumulating the two developmental defects that characterize the sexual dimorphism in this species, were produced by gamma ray irradiation of pollen and screening in the M1 generation. The mutants harbor a novel type of mutation affecting an early function in sporogenous/parietal cell differentiation within the anther. The function is called stamen-promoting function (SPF). The mutants are shown to result from interstitial deletions on the Y chromosome. We present evidence that such deletions tentatively cover the central domain on the (p)-arm of the Y chromosome (Y2 region). By comparing stamen development in wild-type female and asx mutant flowers we show that they share the same block in anther development, which results in the production of vestigial anthers. The data suggest that the SPF, a key function(s) controlling the sporogenous/parietal specialization in premeiotic anthers, is genuinely missing in females (XX constitution). We argue that this is the earliest function in the male program that is Y-linked and is likely responsible for "male dimorphism" (sexual dimorphism in the third floral whorl) in white campion. More generally, the reported results improve our knowledge of the structural and functional organization of the Y chromosome and favor the view that sex determination in this species results primarily from a trigger signal on the Y chromosome (Y1 region) that suppresses female development. The default state is therefore the ancestral hermaphroditic state.

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