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Sexual dimorphism and rapid turnover in gene expression in pre-reproductive seedlings of a dioecious herb.

Authors
  • Cossard, Guillaume G1
  • Toups, Melissa A1, 2
  • Pannell, John R1
  • 1 Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biophore Building, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
  • 2 Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Klosterneuburg, Austria. , (Austria)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Annals of Botany
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Jul 08, 2019
Volume
123
Issue
7
Pages
1119–1131
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcy183
PMID: 30289430
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Sexual dimorphism in morphology, physiology or life history traits is common in dioecious plants at reproductive maturity, but it is typically inconspicuous or absent in juveniles. Although plants of different sexes probably begin to diverge in gene expression both before their reproduction commences and before dimorphism becomes readily apparent, to our knowledge transcriptome-wide differential gene expression has yet to be demonstrated for any angiosperm species. The present study documents differences in gene expression in both above- and below-ground tissues of early pre-reproductive individuals of the wind-pollinated dioecious annual herb, Mercurialis annua, which otherwise shows clear sexual dimorphism only at the adult stage. Whereas males and females differed in their gene expression at the first leaf stage, sex-biased gene expression peaked just prior to, and after, flowering, as might be expected if sexual dimorphism is partly a response to differential costs of reproduction. Sex-biased genes were over-represented among putative sex-linked genes in M. annua but showed no evidence for more rapid evolution than unbiased genes. Sex-biased gene expression in M. annua occurs as early as the first whorl of leaves is produced, is highly dynamic during plant development and varies substantially between vegetative tissues. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected]

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