Interspecific hybridization is an important process through which abrupt speciation can occur. In recent years, genetic changes associated with hybrid speciation have been identified through a variety of techniques, including AFLP/SSR mapping, GISH/FISH and cDNA-AFLP differential display. However, progress in using microarray technology to analyse whole genome/transcriptome changes associated with hybrid speciation has been limited due to the lack of extensive sequence data for many hybrid species and the difficulties in extrapolating results from commercially available microarrays for model species onto nonmodel hybrid taxa. Increasingly therefore researchers studying nonmodel systems are turning to the development of ‘anonymous’ cDNA microarrays, where the time and cost of producing microarrays is reduced by printing unsequenced cDNA clones, and sequencing only those clones that display interesting expression patterns. Here we describe the creation, testing and preliminary use of anonymous cDNA microarrays to study changes in floral transcriptome associated with allopolyploid speciation in the genus Senecio. We report a comparison of gene expression between the allohexaploid hybrid, Senecio cambrensis, its parental taxa Senecio squalidus (diploid) and Senecio vulgaris (tetraploid), and the intermediate triploid (sterile) hybrid Senecio×baxteri. Anonymous microarray analysis revealed dramatic differences in floral gene expression between these four taxa and demonstrates the power of this technique for studies of the genetic impact of hybridization in nonmodel flowering plants.
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