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Heredity (Edinb). 2008 Dec;101(6):507-17. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2008.100. Epub 2008 Sep 17.

Genetic mapping of sex determination in a wild strawberry, Fragaria virginiana, reveals earliest form of sex chromosome.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260-3929, USA.


The evolution of separate sexes (dioecy) from hermaphroditism is one of the major evolutionary transitions in plants, and this transition can be accompanied by the development of sex chromosomes. Studies in species with intermediate sexual systems are providing unprecedented insight into the initial stages of sex chromosome evolution. Here, we describe the genetic mechanism of sex determination in the octoploid, subdioecious wild strawberry, Fragaria virginiana Mill., based on a whole-genome simple sequence repeat (SSR)-based genetic map and on mapping sex determination as two qualitative traits, male and female function. The resultant total map length is 2373 cM and includes 212 markers on 42 linkage groups (mean marker spacing: 14 cM). We estimated that approximately 70 and 90% of the total F. virginiana genetic map resides within 10 and 20 cM of a marker on this map, respectively. Both sex expression traits mapped to the same linkage group, separated by approximately 6 cM, along with two SSR markers. Together, our phenotypic and genetic mapping results support a model of gender determination in subdioecious F. virginiana with at least two linked loci (or gene regions) with major effects. Reconstruction of parental genotypes at these loci reveals that both female and hermaphrodite heterogamety exist in this species. Evidence of recombination between the sex-determining loci, an important hallmark of incipient sex chromosomes, suggest that F. virginiana is an example of the youngest sex chromosome in plants and thus a novel model system for the study of sex chromosome evolution.

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