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Plant Sci. 2014 Mar;217-218:56-62. doi: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2013.10.018. Epub 2013 Nov 5.

Sex determination in flowering plants: papaya as a model system.

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Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA; FAFU and UIUC-SIB Joint Center for Genomics and Biotechnology, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, Fujian 350002, China. Electronic address:


Unisexuality in flowering plants evolved from a hermaphrodite ancestor. Transition from hermaphrodite to unisexual flowers has occurred multiple times across the different lineages of the angiosperms. Sexuality in plants is regulated by genetic, epigenetic and physiological mechanisms. The most specialized mechanism of sex determination is sex chromosomes. The sex chromosomes ensure the stable segregation of sexual phenotypes by preventing the recombination of sex determining genes. Despite continuous efforts, sex determining genes of dioecious plants have not yet been cloned. Concerted efforts with various model systems are necessary to understand the complex mechanism of sex determination in plants. Papaya (Carica papaya L.) is a tropical fruit tree with three sex forms, male, hermaphrodite, and female. Sexuality in papaya is determined by an XY chromosome system that is in an early evolutionary stage. The male and hermaphrodite of papaya are controlled by two different types of Y chromosomes: Y and Y(h). Large amounts of information in the area of genetics, genomics, and epigenetics of papaya have been accumulated over the last few decades. Relatively short lifecycle, small genome size, and readily available genetic and genomic resources render papaya an excellent model system to study sex determination and sex chromosomes in flowering plants.


Dioecy; Flower development; Monoecy; Plant reproduction; Sex chromosomes; Trioecy

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