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Sex chromosomes or sex-determining regions (SDR) have been discovered in many dioecious plant species, including the iconic 'living fossil' Ginkgo biloba, though the location and size of the SDR in G. biloba remain contradictory. Here we resolve these controversies and analyse the evolution of the SDR in this species. Based on transcriptome sequencing data from four genetic crosses we reconstruct male- and female-specific genetic maps and locate the SDR to the middle of chromosome 2. Integration of the genetic maps with the genome sequence reveals that recombination in and around the SDR is suppressed in a region of about 50 Mb in both males and females. However, occasional recombination does occur except a small, less than 5 Mb long region that does not recombine in males. Based on synonymous divergence between homologous X- and Y-linked genes in this region, we infer that the Ginkgo SDR is fairly old-at least of Cretaceous origin. The analysis of substitution rates and gene expression reveals only slight Y-degeneration. These results are consistent with findings in other dioecious plants with homomorphic sex chromosomes, where the SDR is typically small and evolves in a region with pre-existing reduced recombination, surrounded by long actively recombining pseudoautosomal regions. This article is part of the theme issue 'Sex determination and sex chromosome evolution in land plants'.

Original publication




Journal article


Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci

Publication Date





Ginkgo biloba, genetic mapping, sex chromosomes