Editors' ChoicePlant biology

Sex Determination Driven by Community Cooperation

Sci. Signal.  28 Oct 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 349, pp. ec304
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aaa1063

An optimized ratio of male and females in a sexually reproducing population helps to generate the genetic diversity useful to a species in a changing world. Tanaka et al. studied a fern in which the sex ratio is adjusted not by individual identity, but by signaling between individual plants (see the Perspective by Sun). Early-maturing individual ferns express some of the biosynthetic genes needed to make a precursor of the plant hormone gibberellin, which they secrete into the environment. Younger ferns, which express the enzymes needed to finalize synthesis of gibberellin, take up the signal and in response develop the organs that produce male gametes.

J. Tanaka, K. Yano, K. Aya, K. Hirano, S. Takehara, E. Koketsu, R. L. Ordonio, S.-H. Park, M. Nakajima, M. Ueguchi-Tanaka, M. Matsuoka, Antheridiogen determines sex in ferns via a spatiotemporally split gibberellin synthesis pathway. Science 346, 469–473 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]

T.-p. Sun, Sex and the single fern. Science 346, 423–424 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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