In flowering plants, different lineages have independently transitioned from the ancestral hermaphroditic state into and out of various sexual systems1. Polyploidizations are often associated with this plasticity in sexual systems2,3. Persimmons (the genus Diospyros) have evolved dioecy via lineage-specific palaeoploidizations. More recently, hexaploid D. kaki has established monoecy and also exhibits reversions from male to hermaphrodite flowers in response to natural environmental signals (natural hermaphroditism, NH), or to artificial cytokinin treatment (artificial hermaphroditism, AH). We sought to identify the molecular pathways underlying these polyploid-specific reversions to hermaphroditism. Co-expression network analyses identified regulatory pathways specific to NH or AH transitions. Surprisingly, the two pathways appeared to be antagonistic, with abscisic acid and cytokinin signalling for NH and AH, respectively. Among the genes common to both pathways leading to hermaphroditic flowers, we identified a small-Myb RADIALIS-like gene, named DkRAD, which is specifically activated in hexaploid D. kaki. Consistently, ectopic overexpression of DkRAD in two model plants resulted in hypergrowth of the gynoecium. These results suggest that production of hermaphrodite flowers via polyploidization depends on DkRAD activation, which is not associated with a loss-of-function within the existing sex determination pathway, but rather represents a new path to (or reinvention of) hermaphroditism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science