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Title: Polyploidy: its consequences and enabling role in plant diversification and evolution
Abstract Background

Most, if not all, green plant (Virdiplantae) species including angiosperms and ferns are polyploids themselves or have ancient polyploid or whole genome duplication signatures in their genomes. Polyploids are not only restricted to our major crop species such as wheat, maize, potato and the brassicas, but also occur frequently in wild species and natural habitats. Polyploidy has thus been viewed as a major driver in evolution, and its influence on genome and chromosome evolution has been at the centre of many investigations. Mechanistic models of the newly structured genomes are being developed that incorporate aspects of sequence evolution or turnover (low-copy genes and regulatory sequences, as well as repetitive DNAs), modification of gene functions, the re-establishment of control of genes with multiple copies, and often meiotic chromosome pairing, recombination and restoration of fertility.


World-wide interest in how green plants have evolved under different conditions – whether in small, isolated populations, or globally – suggests that gaining further insight into the contribution of polyploidy to plant speciation and adaptation to environmental changes is greatly needed. Forward-looking research and modelling, based on cytogenetics, expression studies, and genomics or genome sequencing analyses, discussed in this Special Issue of the Annals of Botany, consider how new polyploids behave and the pathways available for genome evolution. They address fundamental questions about the advantages and disadvantages of polyploidy, the consequences for evolution and speciation, and applied questions regarding the spread of polyploids in the environment and challenges in breeding and exploitation of wild relatives through introgression or resynthesis of polyploids.


Chromosome number, genome size, repetitive DNA sequences, genes and regulatory sequences and their expression evolve following polyploidy – generating diversity and possible novel traits and enabling species diversification. There is the potential for ever more polyploids in natural, managed and disturbed environments under changing climates and new stresses.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Annals of Botany
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1-10
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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