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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 26;105(34):12370-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805141105. Epub 2008 Aug 18.

Allopolyploid speciation in Persicaria (Polygonaceae): insights from a low-copy nuclear region.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8106, USA.


Using a low-copy nuclear gene region (LEAFY second intron) we show multiple instances of allopolyploid speciation in Persicaria (Polygonaceae), which includes many important weeds. Fifteen species seem to be allopolyploids, which is higher than the number found in previous comparisons of chloroplast DNA and nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (nrITS) phylogenies. This underestimation of the extent of allopolyploidy is due in at least three cases to homogenization of nrITS toward the maternal lineage. One of the diploid species, P. lapathifolia, has been involved in at least six cases of allopolyploid speciation. Of the diploids, this species is the most widespread geographically and ecologically and also bears more numerous and conspicuous flowers, illustrating ecologic factors that may influence hybridization frequency. With a few exceptions, especially the narrowly endemic hexaploid, P. puritanorum, the allopolyploid species also are widespread, plastic, ecological generalists. Hybridization events fostered by human introductions may be fueling the production of new species that have the potential to become aggressive weeds.

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