The frequency of polyploidy increases with latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in deglaciated, recently colonized areas. The cause or causes of this pattern are largely unknown, but a greater genetic diversity of individual polyploid plants due to a doubled genome and/or a hybrid origin is seen as a likely factor underlying selective advantages related to life in extreme climates and/or colonization ability. A history of colonization in itself, as well as a recent origin, and possibly a limited number of polyploidization events would all predict less genetic diversity in polyploids than in diploids. The null hypothesis of higher gene diversity in polyploids has to date hardly been quantified and is here tested in self-incompatible Rorippa amphibia (Brassicaceae). The species occurs in diploid and tetraploid forms and displays clear geographical polyploidy in Europe. On the basis of eight microsatellite loci it can be concluded that the level of gene diversity is higher in tetraploids than in diploids, to an extent that is expected under neutral evolution when taking into account the larger effective population size in the doubled cytotype. There is thus no evidence for reduced genetic diversity in the tetraploids. The evidence presented here may mean that the tetraploids’ origin is not recent, has not been affected by bottlenecks and/or that tetraploids were formed multiple times while an effect of introgression may also play a role.
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