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2015Open access

Single locus sex determination and female heterogamety in the basket willow (Salix viminalis L.)

Pucholt, Pascal; Rönnberg Wästljung, Ann-Christin; Berlin Kolm, Sofia


Most eukaryotes reproduce sexually and a wealth of different sex determination mechanisms have evolved in this lineage. Dioecy or separate sexes are rare among flowering plants but have repeatedly evolved from hermaphroditic ancestors possibly involving male or female sterility mutations. Willows (Salix spp.) and poplars (Populus spp.) are predominantly dioecious and are members of the Salicaceae family. All studied poplars have sex determination loci on chromosome XIX, however, the position differs among species and both male and female heterogametic system exists. In contrast to the situation in poplars, knowledge of sex determination mechanisms in willows is sparse. In the present study, we have for the first time positioned the sex determination locus on chromosome XV in S. viminalis using quantitative trait locus mapping. All female offspring carried a maternally inherited haplotype, suggesting a system of female heterogamety or ZW. We used a comparative mapping approach and compared the positions of the markers between the S. viminalis linkage map and the physical maps of S. purpurea, S. suchowensis and P. trichocarpa. As we found no evidence for chromosomal rearrangements between chromosome XV and XIX between S. viminalis and P. trichocarpa, it shows that the sex determination loci in the willow and the poplar most likely do not share a common origin and has thus evolved separately. This demonstrates that sex determination mechanisms in the Salicaceae family have a high turnover rate and as such it is excellent for studies of evolutionary processes involved in sex chromosome turnover.

Published in

2015, Volume: 114, number: 6, pages: 575-583