Internal transcribed spacer repeat-specific primers and the analysis of hybridization in the Glycine tomentella (Leguminosae) polyploid complex


Jason T. Rauscher. Fax: 607 255 7979; E-mail:


Polyploid and diploid hybridization is a ubiquitous and evolutionarily important phenomenon in the plant world. Determining the parental species of a hybrid, however, is difficult. Molecular markers such as the nuclear ribosomal DNA gene complex, particularly its internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region, have proved powerful in determining hybrid parentage. In some cases, population and genomic phenomena, such as genetic drift and concerted evolution, result in the loss of all or many of the tandemly repeated copies derived from one parental species, making the recovery of hybrid history difficult or impossible. Methods such as direct sequencing and cloning are typically used to find ITS sequences contributed from parental species, but are limited in their ability to detect rare repeat types. Here we report that repeat-specific polymerase chain reaction primers can recover rare parental ITS sequences in the Glycine tomentella polyploid complex. In three allopolyploid lineages of this complex, repeat-specific primers reliably detected rare repeats that both direct sequencing and the screening of many cloned sequences failed to detect. Other strategies, such as the use of exclusion primers, may detect rare parental repeat types in hybrids when previous hypotheses regarding the second parental species are lacking.