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The association between polyploidy and clonal reproduction in diploid and tetraploid Chamerion angustifolium


Correspondence: Sarah J. Baldwin, Fax: 514-398-5069; E-mail:


Clonal reproduction is associated with the incidence of polyploidy in flowering plants. This pattern may arise through selection for increased clonality in polyploids compared to diploids to reduce mixed-ploidy mating. Here, we test whether clonal reproduction is greater in tetraploid than diploid populations of the mixed-ploidy plant, Chamerion angustifolium, through an analysis of the size and spatial distribution of clones in natural populations using AFLP genotyping and a comparison of root bud production in a greenhouse study. Natural tetraploid populations (N = 5) had significantly more AFLP genotypes (math formula = 10.8) than diploid populations (math formula = 6.0). Tetraploid populations tended to have fewer ramets per genotype and fewer genotypes with >1 ramet. In a spatial autocorrelation analysis, ramets within genotypes were more spatially aggregated in diploid populations than in tetraploid populations. In the greenhouse, tetraploids allocated 90.4% more dry mass to root buds than diploids, but tetraploids produced no more root buds and 44% fewer root buds per unit root mass than diploids. Our results indicate that clonal reproduction is significant in most populations, but tetraploid populations are not more clonal than diploids, nor are their clones more spatially aggregated. As a result, tetraploids may be less sheltered from mixed-ploidy mating and diploids more exposed to inbreeding, the balance of which could influence the establishment of tetraploids in diploid populations.