Male-specific Y-chromosomal regions in waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) and Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri)

New Phytol. 2021 Mar;229(6):3522-3533. doi: 10.1111/nph.17108. Epub 2020 Dec 10.


Amaranthus tuberculatus and Amaranthus palmeri are agronomically important weed species, both with stable dioecious reproductive systems. An understanding of the genetic basis of sex determination may lead to new methods of managing these troublesome weeds. Previous research identified genomic sequences associated with maleness in each species. Male-specific sequences were used to identify genomic regions in both species that are believed to contain sex-determining genes, i.e. the male-specific Y (MSY) region. These regions were compared to understand if sex determination is controlled via the same physiological pathway and if dioecy evolved independently. A contiguously assembled candidate MSY region identified in Amaranthus palmeri is approximately 1.3 Mb with 121 predicted gene models. In Amaranthus tuberculatus, several contigs, with combined length of 4.6 Mb and with 147 gene models, were identified as belonging to the MSY region. Synteny was not detected between the two species' candidate MSY regions but they shared two predicted genes. With lists of candidate genes for sex determination containing fewer than 200 in each species, future research can address whether sex determination is controlled via similar physiological pathways and whether dioecy has indeed evolved independently in these species.

Keywords: Amaranthus; dioecy; genetic mapping; male-specific Y; sex determination; weed management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amaranthus* / genetics
  • Herbicide Resistance
  • Herbicides*
  • Plant Weeds


  • Herbicides