Advances in the study of polyploidy since Plant speciation


Author for correspondence: D. Soltis and P. Soltis Tel: +1 352 392 1721 Fax: +1 352 846 2154 Email: and


Enormous strides have been made in the study of polyploidy over the last 20 yr. Here, we highlight some of these discoveries and note where our understanding of polyploid evolution has changed. Genetic and genomic studies have dramatically altered the polyploidy paradigm. The estimated frequency of polyploidy has increased, and it is now recognized that multiple origins are the rule for most polyploids. Likewise, autopolyploidy is much more common than traditionally maintained. Rapid genomic rearrangements, genomic downsizing, movement of genetic elements across genomes, and the movement of foreign genetic materials into the polyploid genome illustrate the complex dynamics of polyploid genomes. Following polyploidization, both genetic and epigenetic mechanisms may play an important role in altering gene expression. Ecological studies reveal that plant polyploidy can have profound effects on interactions with animal herbivores and pollinators and that polyploidy may trigger changes in the reproductive biology of a species. Despite the recent advances in our understanding of polyploid evolution, many exciting aspects remain under-investigated. Some of these include the consequences of genetic and genomic changes in natural polyploid populations, the physiological and ecological effects of polyploidy, and whether recurrent polyploidy prompts evolution to repeat itself.