Annals of Botany

Timing of the effect of polyploidy on clonality in an autopolyploid plant

Clonal reproduction in polyploids is expected to exceed that in diploids, due to either the immediate direct effects of whole-genome duplication (WGD) or selection during establishment. The timing of polyploidy effects on clonality are largely unknown despite its hypothesized influence on polyploid success. Van Drunen and Husband tested the direction and timing of divergence in clonal traits in diploid and polyploid Chamerion angustifolium.

Chamerion angustifolium
Image: Van Drunen and Husband (2018)

The authors did this by comparing root bud production and biomass allocation patterns between diploids and synthesized tetraploids (neotetraploids), and between neotetraploids and naturally occurring tetraploids grown in a common environment.

Root bud production increased in neotetraploids compared to diploids, potentially promoting within-cytotype mating and establishment. Natural tetraploids had a similar investment to diploids, suggesting selection for decreased clonal reproduction in tetraploids over time.

This study contains the first empirical measure of clonal reproduction in synthetic polyploids, offering a unique perspective on the impact of clonality during the early stages of polyploid evolution.