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Akagi, Takashi Graduate School of Environmental and Life Science, Okayama University ORCID Kaken ID researchmap
Shirasawa, Kenta Kazusa DNA Research Institute
Nagasaki, Hideki Kazusa DNA Research Institute
Hirakawa, Hideki Kazusa DNA Research Institute
Tao, Ryutaro Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University
Comai, Luca Genome Center and Department of Plant Biology, University of California Davis
Henry, Isabelle M. Genome Center and Department of Plant Biology, University of California Davis
Most angiosperms bear hermaphroditic flowers, but a few species have evolved outcrossing strategies, such as dioecy, the presence of separate male and female individuals. We previously investigated the mechanisms underlying dioecy in diploid persimmon (D. lotus) and found that male flowers are specified by repression of the autosomal gene MeGI by its paralog, the Y-encoded pseudo-gene OGI. This mechanism is thought to be lineage-specific, but its evolutionary path remains unknown. Here, we developed a full draft of the diploid persimmon genome (D. lotus), which revealed a lineage-specific whole-genome duplication event and provided information on the architecture of the Y chromosome. We also identified three paralogs, MeGI, OGI and newly identified Sister of MeGI (SiMeGI). Evolutionary analysis suggested that MeGI underwent adaptive evolution after the whole-genome duplication event. Transformation of tobacco plants with MeGI and SiMeGI revealed that MeGI specifically acquired a new function as a repressor of male organ development, while SiMeGI presumably maintained the original function. Later, a segmental duplication event spawned MeGI's regulator OGI on the Y-chromosome, completing the path leading to dioecy, and probably initiating the formation of the Y-chromosome. These findings exemplify how duplication events can provide flexible genetic material available to help respond to varying environments and provide interesting parallels for our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the transition into dieocy in plants. Author summary Plant sexuality has fascinated scientists for decades. Most plants can self-reproduce but not all. For example, a small subset of species have evolved a system called dioecy, with separate male and female individuals. Dioecy has evolved multiple times independently and, while we do not understand the molecular mechanisms underlying dioecy in many of these species yet, a picture is starting to emerge with recent progress in several dioecious species. Here, we focused on the evolutionary events leading to dioecy in persimmon. Our previous work had identified a pair of genes regulating sex in this species, called OGI and MeGI. We drafted the whole genome sequence of diploid persimmon to investigate their evolutionary history. We discovered a lineage-specific whole-genome duplication event, and observed that MeGI underwent adaptive evolution after this event. Transgenic analyses validated that MeGI newly acquired a male-suppressor function, while the other copy of this gene, SiMeGI, did not. The regulator of MeGI, OGI, resulted from a second smaller-scale segmental duplication event, finalizing the system. This study sheds light on the role of duplication as a mechanism that promote flexible genes functions, and how it can affect important biological functions, such as the establishment of a new sexual system.
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© 2020 Akagi et al.
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