Browse Articles

Article|13 Mar 2023|OPEN
The proposed role of MSL-lncRNAs in causing sex lability of female poplars
Jinyan Mao1 ,† , Suyun Wei1 ,† , Yingnan Chen1 , Yonghua Yang2 and Tongming Yin,1 ,
1State Key Laboratory for Tree Genetics and Breeding, Co-Innovation Center for Sustainable Forestry in Southern China, Key Laboratory of Tree Genetics and Biotechnology of Educational Department of China, Key Laboratory of Tree Genetics and Breeding of Jiangsu Province, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing, 210037, China
2Institute for Plant Molecular Biology, State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:
Both authors contributed equally to the study.

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhad042 (2023)
Views: 176

Received: 28 Nov 2022
Accepted: 02 Mar 2023
Published online: 13 Mar 2023


Labile sex expression is frequently observed in dioecious plants, but the underlying genetic mechanism remains largely unknown. Sex plasticity is also observed in many Populus species. Here we carried out a systematic study on a maleness-promoting gene, MSL, detected in the Populus deltoides genome. Our results showed that both strands of MSL contained multiple cis-activating elements, which generated long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) promoting maleness. Although female P. deltoides did not have the male-specific MSL gene, a large number of partial sequences with high sequence similarity to this gene were detected in the female poplar genome. Based on sequence alignment, the MSL sequence could be divided into three partial sequences, and heterologous expression of these partial sequences in Arabidopsis confirmed that they could promote maleness. Since activation of the MSL sequences can only result in female sex lability, we propose that MSL-lncRNAs might play a role in causing sex lability of female poplars.