The asparagus genome sheds light on the origin and evolution of a young y chromosome

Alex Harkess, Jinsong Zhou, Chunyan Xu, John E. Bowers, Ron Van Der Hulst, Saravanaraj Ayyampalayam, Francesco Mercati, Paolo Riccardi, Michael R. McKain, Atul Kakrana, Haibao Tang, Jeremy Ray, John Groenendijk, Siwaret Arikit, Sandra M. Mathioni, Mayumi Nakano, Hongyan Shan, Alexa Telgmann-Rauber, Akira Kanno, Zhen YueHaixin Chen, Wenqi Li, Yanling Chen, Xiangyang Xu, Yueping Zhang, Shaochun Luo, Helong Chen, Jianming Gao, Zichao Mao, J. Chris Pires, Meizhong Luo, Dave Kudrna, Rod A. Wing, Blake C. Meyers, Kexian Yi, Hongzhi Kong, Pierre Lavrijsen, Francesco Sunseri, Agostino Falavigna, Yin Ye, James H. Leebens-Mack, Guangyu Chen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    68 Citations (Scopus)


    Sex chromosomes evolved from autosomes many times across the eukaryote phylogeny. Several models have been proposed to explain this transition, some involving male and female sterility mutations linked in a region of suppressed recombination between X and Y (or Z/W, U/V) chromosomes. Comparative and experimental analysis of a reference genome assembly for a double haploid YY male garden asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) individual implicates separate but linked genes as responsible for sex determination. Dioecy has evolved recently within Asparagus and sex chromosomes are cytogenetically identical with the Y, harboring a megabase segment that is missing from the X. We show that deletion of this entire region results in a male-to-female conversion, whereas loss of a single suppressor of female development drives male-to-hermaphrodite conversion. A single copy anther-specific gene with a male sterile Arabidopsis knockout phenotype is also in the Y-specific region, supporting a two-gene model for sex chromosome evolution.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1279
    JournalNature communications
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Chemistry(all)
    • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
    • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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  • Cite this

    Harkess, A., Zhou, J., Xu, C., Bowers, J. E., Van Der Hulst, R., Ayyampalayam, S., Mercati, F., Riccardi, P., McKain, M. R., Kakrana, A., Tang, H., Ray, J., Groenendijk, J., Arikit, S., Mathioni, S. M., Nakano, M., Shan, H., Telgmann-Rauber, A., Kanno, A., ... Chen, G. (2017). The asparagus genome sheds light on the origin and evolution of a young y chromosome. Nature communications, 8(1), [1279].