Plant Sex Chromosomes

Deborah Charlesworth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although individuals in most flowering plant species, and in many haploid plants, have both sex functions, dioecious species-in which individuals have either male or female functions only-are scattered across many taxonomic groups, and many species have genetic sex determination. Among these, some have visibly heteromorphic sex chromosomes, and molecular genetic studies are starting to uncover sex-linked markers in others, showing that they too have fully sex-linked regions that are either too small or are located in chromosomes that are too small to be cytologically detectable from lack of pairing, lack of visible crossovers, or accumulation of heterochromatin. Detailed study is revealing that, like animal sex chromosomes, plant sex-linked regions show evidence for accumulation of repetitive sequences and genetic degeneration. Estimating when recombination stopped confirms the view that many plants have young sex-linked regions, making plants of great interest for studying the timescale of these changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-420
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual Review of Plant Biology
Early online date19 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2016


  • Evolutionary strata
  • Genetic degeneration
  • Heterochromatin
  • Partial sex linkage
  • Recombination suppression
  • Sex determination


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