Multilocus sex determination revealed in two populations of gynodioecious wild strawberry, Fragaria vesca subsp. bracteata

Multilocus sex determination revealed in two populations of gynodioecious wild strawberry, Fragaria vesca subsp. bracteata
Tia-Lynn Ashman, Jacob Tennessen, Rebecca Dalton, Rajanikanth Govindarajulu, Mathew Koski, Aaron Liston

Gynodioecy, the coexistence of females and hermaphrodites, occurs in 20% of angiosperm families and often enables transitions between hermaphroditism and dioecy. Clarifying mechanisms of sex determination in gynodioecious species can thus illuminate sexual system evolution. Genetic determination of gynodioecy, however, can be complex and is not fully characterized in any wild species. We used targeted sequence capture to genetically map a novel nuclear contributor to male sterility in a self-pollinated hermaphrodite of Fragaria vesca subsp. bracteata from the southern portion of its range. To understand its interaction with another identified locus and possibly additional loci, we performed crosses within and between two populations separated by 2000 km, phenotyped the progeny and sequenced candidate markers at both sex-determining loci. The newly mapped locus contains a high density of pentatricopeptide repeat genes, a class commonly involved in restoration of fertility caused by cytoplasmic male sterility. Examination of all crosses revealed three unlinked epistatically interacting loci that determine sexual phenotype and vary in frequency between populations. Fragaria vesca subsp. bracteata represents the first wild gynodioecious species with genomic evidence of both cytoplasmic and nuclear genes in sex determination. We propose a model for the interactions between these loci and new hypotheses for the evolution of sex determining chromosomes in the subdioecious and dioecious Fragaria.


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