Two genes determine flower sex
Whether a flower is male or female depends on the combination of two genes, researchers from the French national institute for agricultural research, the INRA, have found. They studied the genes involved in flower development in melons and identified a pair of genes that act in tandem, dubbed A/a (andromonoecious) and G/g (gynoecious) to control floral development. Depending on the combination of dominant and recessive alleles in their genome, plants produced flowers that were: either male or female (monoecious); male and bisexual; hermaphroditic; or female only (gynoecious). The researchers believe their discovery could be exploited to develop new hybrids, improve yields by increasing the number of female flowers or, coupled with parthenocarpic traits, develop new seedless fruit varieties.