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Am Nat. 2004 Jul;164(1):101-12. Epub 2004 Jun 7.

Triploid bridge and role of parthenogenesis in the evolution of autopolyploidy.

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Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University, Kamitanakami Hiranocho, Otsu 520-2113, Japan.


Autopolyploidization is considered to play an important role in plant evolution. In polyploidization, the polyploid evolves from the original diploid cytotype, in which the triploid state is considered to mediate the process (triploid bridge). Nevertheless, the fitness of triploid individuals seems to be too low to facilitate the polyploidization process (triploid block). The evolutionary condition of autopolyploidy was analyzed using a mathematical model focusing on the role of parthenogenesis in triploid and tetraploid individuals. In addition, offspring were assumed to arise by sexual reproduction by conjugations between haploid, diploid, and triploid gametes produced by diploid, tetraploid, and triploid individuals. According to the analysis, even if triploid block suppresses the fitness of sexually produced triploids, the polyploidization process can proceed when parthenogenesis occurs frequently. If only triploids frequently reproduce parthenogenetically, the evolutionary consequences tend to depend on the fitness of the tetraploid individuals. On the basis of a predetermined parameter set, if tetraploid fitness is relatively low, all three ploidies can coexist. Otherwise, tetraploidization occurs. In this case, triploid parthenogenesis promotes not only triploidization but also tetraploidization. However, if both triploids and tetraploids frequently reproduce parthenogenetically, the ploidy levels with the highest fitness are likely to dominate in the population through direct competition among cytotypes.

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