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BMC Evol Biol. 2009 Oct 14;9:250. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-9-250.

Polyploid evolution in Oryza officinalis complex of the genus Oryza.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, PR China.



Polyploidization is a prominent process in plant evolution, whereas the mechanism and tempo-spatial process remained poorly understood. Oryza officinalis complex, a polyploid complex in the genus Oryza, could exemplify the issues not only for it covering a variety of ploidy levels, but also for the pantropical geographic pattern of its polyploids in Asia, Africa, Australia and Americas, in which a pivotal genome, the C-genome, witnessed all the polyploidization process.


Tracing the C-genome evolutionary history in Oryza officinalis complex, this study revealed the genomic relationships, polyploid forming and diverging times, and diploidization process, based on phylogeny, molecular-clock analyses and fluorescent in situ hybridization using genome-specific probes. Results showed that C-genome split with B-genome at ca. 4.8 Mya, followed by a series of speciation of C-genome diploids (ca. 1.8-0.9 Mya), which then partook in successive polyploidization events, forming CCDD tetraploids in ca. 0.9 Mya, and stepwise forming BBCC tetraploids between ca. 0.3-0.6 Mya. Inter-genomic translocations between B- and C-genomes were identified in BBCC tetraploid, O. punctata. Distinct FISH (fluorescent in situ hybridization) patterns among three CCDD species were visualized by C-genome-specific probes. B-genome was modified before forming the BBCC tetraploid, O. malampuzhaensis.


C-genome, shared by all polyploid species in the complex, had experienced different evolutionary history particularly after polyploidization, e.g., inter-genomic exchange in BBCC and genomic invasion in CCDD tetraploids. It diverged from B-genome at 4.8 Mya, then participated in the tetraploid formation spanning from 0.9 to 0.3 Mya, and spread into tropics of the disjunct continents by transcontinentally long-distance dispersal, instead of vicariance, as proposed by this study, given that the continental splitting was much earlier than the C-genome species radiation. We also find reliable evidence indicated that an extinct BB diploid species in Asia was presumptively the direct genomic donor of their sympatric tetraploids.

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