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In 1917, sex chromosomes in plants were discovered in a liverwort with hetermorphic U and V chromosomes. Such heteromorphy is unexpected because, unlike the XY chromosomes in diploid-dominant plants, in haploid-dominant plants the female U and the male V chromosomes experience largely symmetrical potential recombination environments. Here we use molecular cytogenetics and super-resolution microscopy to study Frullania dilatata, a liverwort with one male and two female sex chromosomes. We applied a pipeline to Illumina sequences to detect abundant types of repetitive DNA and developed FISH probes to microscopically distinguish the sex chromosomes. We also determined the phenotypic population sex ratio because biased ratios have been reported from other liverworts with heteromorphic sex chromosomes. Populations had male-biased sex ratios. The sex chromosomes are monocentric, and of 14 probes studied (eight satellites, five transposable elements and one plastid region), four resulted in unique signals that differentiated the sex chromosomes from the autosomes and from each other. One FISH probe selectively marked the centromeres of both U chromosomes, so we could prove that during meiosis each U chromosome associates with one of the opposite telomeres of the V chromosome, resulting in a head-to-head trivalent. The similarity of the two U chromosomes to each other in size and in their centromere FISH signal positions points to their origin via a non-disjunction event (aneuploidy), which would fit with the general picture of sex chromosomes rarely crossing-over and being prone to suffer from non-disjunction. © 2020 The Authors. The Plant Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Aretuza Sousa, Veit Schubert, Susanne S Renner. Centromere organization and UU/V sex chromosome behavior in a liverwort. The Plant journal : for cell and molecular biology. 2021 Apr;106(1):133-141

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PMID: 33372295

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