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Am J Bot. 2016 Jul;103(7):1326-35. doi: 10.3732/ajb.1500529. Epub 2016 Jul 1.

Species interactions and plant polyploidy.

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Department of Biology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244 USA
Department of Biology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244 USA.


Polyploidy is a common mode of speciation that can have far-reaching consequences for plant ecology and evolution. Because polyploidy can induce an array of phenotypic changes, there can be cascading effects on interactions with other species. These interactions, in turn, can have reciprocal effects on polyploid plants, potentially impacting their establishment and persistence. Although there is a wealth of information on the genetic and phenotypic effects of polyploidy, the study of species interactions in polyploid plants remains a comparatively young field. Here we reviewed the available evidence for how polyploidy may impact many types of species interactions that range from mutualism to antagonism. Specifically, we focused on three main questions: (1) Does polyploidy directly cause the formation of novel interactions not experienced by diploids, or does it create an opportunity for natural selection to then form novel interactions? (2) Does polyploidy cause consistent, predictable changes in species interactions vs. the evolution of idiosyncratic differences? (3) Does polyploidy lead to greater evolvability in species interactions? From the scarce evidence available, we found that novel interactions are rare but that polyploidy can induce changes in pollinator, herbivore, and pathogen interactions. Although further tests are needed, it is likely that selection following whole-genome duplication is important in all types of species interaction and that there are circumstances in which polyploidy can enhance the evolvability of interactions with other species.


coevolution; flower visitors; herbivory; pathogens; plant–fungal interactions; pollination; polyploidy; seed dispersal; soil microbes; tri-trophic interactions

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