Sex chromosomes in land plants

Ray Ming, Abdelhafid Bendahmane, Susanne S. Renner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

332 Scopus citations


Sex chromosomes in land plants can evolve as a consequence of close linkage between the two sex determination genes with complementary dominance required to establish stable dioecious populations, and they are found in at least 48 species across 20 families. The sex chromosomes in hepatics, mosses, and gymnosperms are morphologically heteromorphic. In angiosperms, heteromorphic sex chromosomes are found in at least 19 species from 4 families, while homomorphic sex chromosomes occur in 20 species from 13 families. The prevalence of the XY system found in 44 out of 48 species may reflect the predominance of the evolutionary pathway from gynodioecy towards dioecy. All dioecious species have the potential to evolve sex chromosomes, and reversions back from dioecy to various forms of monoecy, gynodioecy, or androdioecy have also occurred. Such reversals may occur especially during the early stages of sex chromosome evolution before the lethality of the YY (or WW) genotype is established.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-514
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Plant Biology
StatePublished - Jun 2 2011


  • land plants
  • pseudoautosomal region
  • sex chromosomes
  • sex determination
  • suppression of recombination


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