The persimmon genome reveals clues to the evolution of a lineage-specific sex determination system in plants

Takashi Akagi, Kenta Shirasawa, Hideki Nagasaki, Hideki Hirakawa, Ryutaro Tao, Luca Comai, Isabelle M. Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Most angiosperms bear hermaphroditic flowers, but a few species have evolved outcrossing strategies, such as dioecy, the presence of separate male and female individuals. We previously investigated the mechanisms underlying dioecy in diploid persimmon (D. lotus) and found that male flowers are specified by repression of the autosomal gene MeGI by its paralog, the Y-encoded pseudo-gene OGI. This mechanism is thought to be lineage-specific, but its evolutionary path remains unknown. Here, we developed a full draft of the diploid persimmon genome (D. lotus), which revealed a lineage-specific whole-genome duplication event and provided information on the architecture of the Y chromosome. We also identified three paralogs, MeGI, OGI and newly identified Sister of MeGI (SiMeGI). Evolutionary analysis suggested that MeGI underwent adaptive evolution after the whole-genome duplication event. Transformation of tobacco plants with MeGI and SiMeGI revealed that MeGI specifically acquired a new function as a repressor of male organ development, while SiMeGI presumably maintained the original function. Later, a segmental duplication event spawned MeGI's regulator OGI on the Y-chromosome, completing the path leading to dioecy, and probably initiating the formation of the Y-chromosome. These findings exemplify how duplication events can provide flexible genetic material available to help respond to varying environments and provide interesting parallels for our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the transition into dieocy in plants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1008566
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


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