The "Polyploid Hop": shifting challenges and opportunities over the evolutionary lifespan of genome duplications


Baduel P, Bray S, Vallejo-Marin M, Kolář F & Yant L (2018) The "Polyploid Hop": shifting challenges and opportunities over the evolutionary lifespan of genome duplications. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 6, Art. No.: 117.

The duplication of an entire genome is no small affair. Whole genome duplication (WGD) is a dramatic mutation with long-lasting effects, yet it occurs repeatedly in all eukaryotic kingdoms. Plants are particularly rich in documented WGDs, with recent and ancient polyploidization events in all major extant lineages. However, challenges immediately following WGD, such as the maintenance of stable chromosome segregation or detrimental ecological interactions with diploid progenitors, commonly do not permit establishment of nascent polyploids. Despite these immediate issues some lineages nevertheless persist and thrive. In fact, ecological modelling supports patterns of adaptive niche differentiation in polyploids, with young polyploids often invading new niches and leaving their diploid progenitors behind. In line with these observations of polyploid evolutionary success, recent work documents instant physiological consequences of WGD associated with increased dehydration stress tolerance in first-generation autotetraploids. Furthermore, population genetic theory predicts both short-and long-term benefits of polyploidy and new empirical data suggests that established polyploids may act as 'sponges' accumulating adaptive allelic diversity. In addition to their increased genetic variability, introgression with other tetraploid lineages, diploid progenitors, or even other species, further increases the available pool of genetic variants to polyploids. Despite this, the evolutionary advantages of polyploidy are still questioned, and the debate over the idea of polyploidy as an evolutionary dead-end carries on. Here we broadly synthesise the newest empirical data moving this debate forward. Altogether, evidence suggests that if early barriers are overcome, WGD can offer instantaneous fitness advantages opening the way to a transformed fitness landscape by sampling a higher diversity of alleles, including some already preadapted to their local environment. This occurs in the context of intragenomic, population genomic, and physiological modifications that can, on occasion, offer an evolutionary edge. Yet in the long run, early advantages can turn into long-term hindrances, and without ecological drivers such as novel ecological niche availability or agricultural propagation, a restabilization of the genome via diploidization will begin the cycle anew.

polyploidy; selection; population genetics; evolution; autopolyploidy; genome

Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution: Volume 6

FundersEuropean Commission and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Publication date20/08/2018
Publication date online20/08/2018
Date accepted by journal23/07/2018