Send to

Choose Destination
Planta. 2016 May;243(5):1083-95. doi: 10.1007/s00425-016-2485-7. Epub 2016 Feb 26.

Repetitive sequences and epigenetic modification: inseparable partners play important roles in the evolution of plant sex chromosomes.

Author information

College of Life Sciences, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang, 453007, China.
School of Basic Medical Sciences, Xinxiang Medical University, Xinxiang, 453003, China.
College of Life Sciences, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang, 453007, China.


The present review discusses the roles of repetitive sequences played in plant sex chromosome evolution, and highlights epigenetic modification as potential mechanism of repetitive sequences involved in sex chromosome evolution. Sex determination in plants is mostly based on sex chromosomes. Classic theory proposes that sex chromosomes evolve from a specific pair of autosomes with emergence of a sex-determining gene(s). Subsequently, the newly formed sex chromosomes stop recombination in a small region around the sex-determining locus, and over time, the non-recombining region expands to almost all parts of the sex chromosomes. Accumulation of repetitive sequences, mostly transposable elements and tandem repeats, is a conspicuous feature of the non-recombining region of the Y chromosome, even in primitive one. Repetitive sequences may play multiple roles in sex chromosome evolution, such as triggering heterochromatization and causing recombination suppression, leading to structural and morphological differentiation of sex chromosomes, and promoting Y chromosome degeneration and X chromosome dosage compensation. In this article, we review the current status of this field, and based on preliminary evidence, we posit that repetitive sequences are involved in sex chromosome evolution probably via epigenetic modification, such as DNA and histone methylation, with small interfering RNAs as the mediator.


Dioecious plant; Heterochromatization; Recombination suppression; Repetitive elements; Sex chromosome evolution; Transposable elements

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center