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Published on Sep 4, 2013
The evolution of separate sexes (dioecy) from combined sexed (hermaphrodite) ancestors has occurred hundreds of times in angiosperm history making it one of the broadest evolutionary convergences in flowering plants. In this lecture, I synthesize work from our lab using wild strawberry (Fragaria) as a model system to provide insight into both the ecological drivers of selection for (and against) separate sexes and the genetic underpinnings of this transition. With detailed mechanistic studies in a subdioecious species Fragaria virginiana we not only test longstanding theory but gain transformative insight into early sex chromosome evolution. With further comparative studies in a young genus with at least four transitions from hermaphroditism to separate sexes, we reveal the transition from autosome to sex chromosome and the complex dynamics of sex determining regions with special reference to plants with polyploid histories.