Mol Genet Genomics (Jul 18 2018)
Dioecy has evolved numerous times in plants, but heteromorphic sex chromosomes are apparently rare. Sex determination has been studied in multiple Salix and Populus (Salicaceae) species, and P. trichocarpa has an XY sex determination system on chromosome 19, while S. suchowensis and S. viminalis have a ZW system on chromosome 15. Here we use whole genome sequencing coupled with quantitative trait locus mapping and a genome-wide association study to characterize the genomic composition of the non-recombining portion of the sex determination region. We demonstrate that Salix purpurea also has a ZW system on chromosome 15. The sex determination region has reduced recombination, high structural polymorphism, an abundance of transposable elements, and contains genes that are involved in sex expression in other plants. We also show that chromosome 19 contains sex-associated markers in this S. purpurea assembly, along with other autosomes. This raises the intriguing possibility of a translocation of the sex determination region within the Salicaceae lineage, suggesting a common evolutionary origin of the Populus and Salix sex determination loci.