The nonrecombining regions of animal Y chromosomes are known to undergo genetic degeneration, but previous work has failed to reveal large-scale gene degeneration on plant Y chromosomes. Here, we uncover rapid and extensive degeneration of Y-linked genes in a plant species, Silene latifolia, that evolved sex chromosomes de novo in the last 10 million years. Previous transcriptome-based studies of this species missed unexpressed, degenerate Y-linked genes. To identify sex-linked genes, regardless of their expression, we sequenced male and female genomes of S. latifolia and integrated the genomic contigs with a high-density genetic map. This revealed that 45% of Y-linked genes are not expressed, and 23% are interrupted by premature stop codons. This contrasts with X-linked genes, in which only 1.3% of genes contained stop codons and 4.3% of genes were not expressed in males. Loss of functional Y-linked genes is partly compensated for by gene-specific up-regulation of X-linked genes. Our results demonstrate that the rate of genetic degeneration of Y-linked genes in S. latifolia is as fast as in animals, and that the evolutionary trajectories of sex chromosomes are similar in the two kingdoms.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
13021 - 13026
Y degeneration, dosage compensation, gene expression, plants, sex chromosome evolution, Chromosomes, Plant, Dosage Compensation, Genetic, Genetic Linkage, Plants, Sex Chromosomes, Silene