FROM DEVELOPMENTAL SWITCHES TO BROAD EVOLUTIONARY TRAJECTORIES: UNDERSTANDING MECHANISMS OF SEX DETERMINATION
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Proposed Symposium Title: FROM DEVELOPMENTAL SWITCHES TO BROAD EVOLUTIONARY TRAJECTORIES: UNDERSTANDING MECHANISMS OF SEX DETERMINATION
Abstract: Mechanisms controlling sex determination, i. e. the specification of male and female individuals, have fascinated humans for millennia. Sex determination is also of considerable interest for developmental genetics, as profound morphological differences are instigated by genetic and environmental variation. Given that a number of crops like hops, hemp, spinach, persimmon or date palms develop separate male and female individuals understanding sex determination has also received attention from agriculture.
However, though much is known about sex determination in animals, the same phenomenon remained understudied in plants for decades. This is partly because the majority of flowering plants and most “super-model” plants are bisexual: they develop male and female reproductive organs in the same flower. However, some 6 % of flowering plants are dioecious, i.e. they develop male and female flowers on separate individuals. Dioecy originated hundreds of times independently in flowering plants, yet the molecular mechanisms behind it have only been elucidated very recently.
Several breakthroughs in sex determination have been published recently, highlighting how a phenomenon that remained almost intractable for decades can see massive progress in a short period of time. In this symposium, we will discuss the intricate mechanisms of sex determination from an evolutionary, developmental and genetic perspective.
We aim to highlight different approaches to study sex determination and will discuss common evolutionary trajectories that facilitated the origin of male and female individuals. On a broader level, we will outline how the developmental switches underlying sex determination can serve as a paradigm of how genetic and environmental variation translate into phenotypic differences.
Speaker 1: Name: Prof. Dr. Susana Coelho
Affiliation: Max Planck Institute for Biology, Germany
Tentative talk title: Origin and evolution of sexual systems
Speaker 2: Name: Prof. Takashi Akagi
Affiliation: Okayama University, Japan
Tentative talk title: Sex determining genes in persimmon and kiwifruit
Speaker 3: Name: Dr. Sarah Carey
Affiliation: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, USA
Tentative talk title: Evolution of sex chromosomes
Topics (Up to three): Comparative Genomics / Transcriptomics
Topic 2: Macroevolution
Topic 3: Reproductive Biology
Justification: We invited some of the world leaders in this area, and they enthusiastically agreed to join our symposium. The symposium will be of interest to a wide audience as it shows how a combination of genomics, genetics and evolutionary biology can be used to address complex biological problems.
We have invited speakers from three career stages (postdoc, early and mid career PI) that cover different angles of the topic and are from different areas of the world (America, Europe, Asia). We have invited two female and one male speaker, one of the symposium organizers is female, one is male.