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Jennifer Han, Jan E. Murray, Qingyi Yu, Paul H. Moore and Ray Ming

The vegetative forms of male (XY), female (XX), and hermaphrodite (XYh) papaya (Carica papaya L.) plants are phenotypically identical. However, the flower and inflorescence morphology of each sex type is unique. Gynodioecious varieties SunUp, SunUp Diminutive mutant, and dioecious AU9 were used to test the response of papaya to gibberellic acid (GA3). Exogenous applications of GA3 on female and hermaphrodite flowers of papaya did not yield any sex reversal phenotype but caused a significant increase in peduncle elongation and inflorescence branch number in all treated plants. An increase in flower number was seen in females but not hermaphrodites or males. There was an increase in plant height for all treated plants except SunUp Diminutive mutant, suggesting that the mechanism causing the dwarf phenotype is independent of gibberellins. Gibberellin metabolism genes were identified in the papaya genome, none of which mapped to the sex-determining region of either the male- or hermaphrodite-specific region of papaya Y or Yh chromosome. We hypothesize that a transacting regulatory element that enhances gibberellin biosynthesis plays a role in the extreme length of the male papaya peduncle.