Polyploidy and novelty: Gottlieb's legacy

Pamela S. Soltis, Xiaoxian Liu, D. Blaine Marchant, Clayton J. Visger, Douglas E. Soltis


Nearly four decades ago, Roose & Gottlieb (Roose & Gottlieb 1976 Evolution 30, 818–830. (doi:10.2307/2407821)) showed that the recently derived allotetraploids Tragopogon mirus and T. miscellus combined the allozyme profiles of their diploid parents (T. dubius and T. porrifolius, and T. dubius and T. pratensis, respectively). This classic paper addressed the link between genotype and biochemical phenotype and documented enzyme additivity in allopolyploids. Perhaps more important than their model of additivity, however, was their demonstration of novelty at the biochemical level. Enzyme multiplicity—the production of novel enzyme forms in the allopolyploids—can provide an extensive array of polymorphism for a polyploid individual and may explain, for example, the expanded ranges of polyploids relative to their diploid progenitors. In this paper, we extend the concept of evolutionary novelty in allopolyploids to a range of genetic and ecological features. We observe that the dynamic nature of polyploid genomes—with alterations in gene content, gene number, gene arrangement, gene expression and transposon activity—may generate sufficient novelty that every individual in a polyploid population or species may be unique. Whereas certain combinations of these features will undoubtedly be maladaptive, some unique combinations of newly generated variation may provide tremendous evolutionary potential and adaptive capabilities.

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