Plant sex chromosomes: molecular structure and function. Jamilena, M., Mariotti, B., & Manzano, S. Cytogenetic and Genome Research, 120(3-4):255-264, 2008.
Plant sex chromosomes: molecular structure and function. [pdf]Paper  Plant sex chromosomes: molecular structure and function. [link]Website  abstract   bibtex   
Recent molecular and genomic studies carried out in a number of model dioecious plant species, including Asparagus officinalis, Carica papaya, Silene latifolia, Rumex acetosa and Marchantia polymorpha, have shed light on the molecular structure of both homomorphic and heteromorphic sex chromosomes, and also on the gene functions they have maintained since their evolution from a pair of autosomes. The molecular structure of sex chromosomes in species from different plant families represents the evolutionary pathway followed by sex chromosomes during their evolution. The degree of Y chromosome degeneration that accompanies the suppression of recombination between the Xs and Ys differs among species. The primitive Ys of A. officinalis and C. papaya have only diverged from their homomorphic Xs in a short male-specific and non-recombining region (MSY), while the heteromorphic Ys of S. latifolia, R. acetosa and M. polymorpha have diverged from their respective Xs. As in the Y chromosomes of mammals and Drosophila, the accumulation of repetitive DNA, including both transposable elements and satellite DNA, has played an important role in the divergence and size enlargement of plant Ys, and consequently in reducing gene density. Nevertheless, the degeneration process in plants does not appear to have reached the Y-linked genes. Although a low gene density has been found in the sequenced Y chromosome of M. polymorpha, most of its genes are essential and are expressed in the vegetative and reproductive organs in both male and females. Similarly, most of the Y-linked genes that have been isolated and characterized up to now in S. latifolia are housekeeping genes that have X-linked homologues, and are therefore expressed in both males and females. Only one of them seems to be degenerate with respect to its homologous region in the X. Sequence analysis of larger regions in the homomorphic X and Y chromosomes of papaya and asparagus, and also in the heteromorphic sex chromosomes of S. latifolia and R. acetosa, will reveal the degenerative changes that the Y-linked gene functions have experienced during sex chromosome evolution.

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