Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Gender issues in the plant world

Whether a plant is male, female or hermaphrodite depends on genes, epigenetics and hormones. EU research has investigated various sex determination systems in the melon and the model plant thale cress, Arabidopsis thaliana.
Gender issues in the plant world
For the melon, interaction of two genes determines sex of the flower. Gene a codes for an enzyme that represses stamen development in female flowers. The g gene encodes a transcription factor, tryptophan proline proline domain interacting protein (WIP) protein, that blocks the enzyme and the stamens develop.

One WIP gene, CmWIP1, codes for a nuclear protein that is present throughout the plant kingdom. In A. thaliana, no less than six WIP genes have been identified, but had not been characterised. The project GENDER (Molecular mechanisms monitoring sex determination in Arabidopsis thaliana) has investigated the WIP genes in melon. To do this, they studied in depth their role in A. thaliana. The findings can then be tested and transferred to the commercially important cucurbit plants.

The researchers performed a β-glucuronidase expression analysis to determine the expression of each WIP gene in A. thaliana seedlings. The results suggest a redundant function for WIP proteins in plant development.

To test this hypothesis, the scientists created double and triple WIP mutants and then analysed the plants for developmental changes. Comparing and integrating omics data from wild-type and WIP mutants contributed to a molecular model that explains the input of WIP proteins in sexual development in plants.

Sex determination is a complex topic and evolution has created many different systems. The molecular cascades in the thale cress for sex determination can be applied to the melon family and sex development in general.

Related information


Sex determination, melon, Arabidopsis thaliana, WIP protein, evolution
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top