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White campion (Silene latifolia, Caryophyllaceae) was the first vascular plant where sex chromosomes were discovered. This species is a classic model for studies on plant sex chromosomes due to presence of large, clearly distinguishable X and Y chromosomes that originated de novo about 11 million years ago (mya), but lack of genomic resources for this relatively large genome (∼2.8 Gb) remains a significant hurdle. Here we report S. latifolia female genome assembly integrated with sex-specific genetic maps of this species, focusing on sex chromosomes and their evolution. The analysis reveals a highly heterogeneous recombination landscape with strong reduction in recombination rate in the central parts of all chromosomes. Recombination on the X chromosome in female meiosis primarily occurs at the very ends, and over 85% of the X chromosome length is located in a massive (∼330 Mb) gene-poor, rarely recombining pericentromeric region (Xpr). The results indicate that the non-recombining region on the Y chromosome (NRY) initially evolved in a relatively small (∼15 Mb), actively recombining region at the end of the q-arm, possibly as a result of inversion on the nascent X chromosome. The NRY expanded about 6 mya via linkage between the Xpr and the sex-determining region, which may have been caused by expanding pericentromeric recombination suppression on the X chromosome. These findings shed light on the origin of sex chromosomes in S. latifolia and yield genomic resources to assist ongoing and future investigations into sex chromosome evolution.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date



Silene latifolia, X chromosome, genetic map, genome sequence, recombination suppression, sex chromosome evolution