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Keywords:

  • Diversification;
  • haploid dioecy;
  • hermaphroditism;
  • inbreeding depression;
  • mating system;
  • sexual dimorphism

The origin and maintenance of separate sexes (dioecy) is an enduring evolutionary puzzle. Although both hermaphroditism and dioecy occur in many diverse clades, we know little about the long-term evolutionary consequences of changing sexual system. Here we find evidence for at least 133 transitions between sexual systems in mosses, representing an almost unparalleled lability in the evolution of their sexual systems. Furthermore, in contrast to predictions, the transition rate from hermaphroditism to dioecy was approximately twice as high as the reverse transition. Our results also suggest that hermaphrodites may have higher rates of diversification than dioecious mosses. These results illustrate the utility of mosses for understanding the genomic and macroevolutionary consequences of hermaphroditism and dioecy.