Plant Y chromosomes show early signs of degeneration

Degeneration of plant Y chromosomes can help us understand why our own have shrunk, according to recent research.

Researchers from the University of Toronto examined sex chromosomes in the plant Rumex hastatulus, also known as the heartwing sorrel. Genes on the Y chromosome showed clear signs of degeneration, including reduced expression and greater accumulation of substitution mutations.

Y chromosomes are known to degenerate over evolutionary time, with human Y chromosomes now retaining only about three per cent of their ancestral genes.

Because R. hastatulus evolved Y chromosomes more recently than mammals, this research offers insight into the early stages of this degradation process.

Read more at University of Toronto