Emergence of gender and sex chromosomes: evolutionary insights from a diversity of taxa
Summary The evolution of sex chromosomes from autosomes is thought to be such a universal feature of separate-sexed organisms that the steps involved in the transition are believed to have been similarly traversed by organisms as diverse as animals, plants, and fungi. The fundamental first steps in this transition, however, can only be studied in systems with 'young' sex chromosomes. Moreover it is within systems with young or evolving sex chromosomes that we are most likely to connect the genetic and developmental mechanisms of chromosomal sex determination with theoretical work and studies at the population level. In this catalyst meeting we seek to bring together, and develop a network among, researchers working in systems with young sex chromosomes but with diverse expertise and/or working on diverse model systems. Our goals are to breach taxonomic and disciplinary boundaries and create an intellectual synthesis of ideas to guide the community of researchers in the future. We will establish a number of working subgroups tasked with addressing a series of unifying questions defined by the community that will be strengthened by a post-meeting exchange of graduate students between participating members' labs. Tangible products will include a review paper, a proposal for an edited volume on the evolution of separate sexes and sex chromosomes that spans all systems and approaches, as well as a development plan for a proposal to the NSF Research Coordination Network program that will provide funding for the future development of research and educational opportunities for the community as a whole.