Evolution of Dioecy

This is an ongoing project.

Faculty Researcher: Edward Golenberg

Contact Details

Edward M. Golenberg


Dioecy has evolved independently in 5-7% of angiosperms. The developmental regulatory mechanism are expected to vary among species, but two general models have been proposed for evolutionary pathways leading to dioecy. In the first, sequential mutations causing reproductive organ loss arise followed by suppression of recombination. In the second, reproductive organ determination genes are ultimately controlled by master switches that are triggered by external and internal conditions. There is no recombination suppression and species may evolve through stages of monoecy.
The goal of this project is to determine the molecular mechanisms leading to dioecy in culivated spinach and to elucidate the evolutionary steps that are shared within the related Anserineae.


Students should be at least juniors, have taken or are presently taking genetics, and have a minimum 3.3 GPA in science and math courses. A two semester commitment is a minimum requirement.

Project Timeline



Work with graduate students and technicians utilizing basic molecular biology techniques.

Last Updated

June 19, 2014