Genetic battle of the sexes plays out in cukes and melons | Science News

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Genetic battle of the sexes plays out in cukes and melons

Separate gene discovery borrows poppy genes to limit self-sex in mustard plant

9:00am, November 17, 2015
cucumber flower

UNISEX MIXER  Geneticists are untangling such puzzles of plant sexuality as how cucumbers grow his and hers flowers on same plant.

Two new genetic insights could make plants’ sex more convenient for the people growing and eating them.

Genes that keep a plant from fertilizing itself can be transferred successfully from one species to another across an unexpectedly wide evolutionary gap, says Noni Franklin-Tong of the University of Birmingham in England. And research on melons and cucumbers shows how the interplay of three main genes controls the shifts between unisexual and bisexual blooms, says Abdelhafid Bendahmane of the INRA French national agricultural labs in Évry.  

The new papers, both in the Nov. 6 Science, sharpen the understanding of plants’ control over how sexual organs develop and function in individual blooms. Even though textbook diagrams show male and female flower parts snugged into a single blossom, plants vary enormously in terms of sex and

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