Formation of polyploid organisms by fertilization of unreduced gametes in meiotic mutants is believed to be a common phenomenon in species evolution. However, not well understood is how species in nature generally exist as haploid and diploid organisms in a long evolutionary time while polyploidization must have repeatedly occurred via meiotic mutations. Here, we show that the ploidy increased for two consecutive generations due to unreduced but viable gametes in the Arabidopsis cyclin a1;2-2 (also named tardy asynchronous meiosis-2) mutant, but the resultant octaploid plants produced progeny of either the same or reduced ploidy via genomic reductions during meiosis and pollen mitosis. Ploidy reductions through sexual reproduction were also observed in independently generated artificial octaploid and hexaploid Arabidopsis plants. These results demonstrate that octaploid is likely the maximal ploidy produced through sexual reproduction in Arabidopsis. The polyploidy-associated genomic instability may be a general phenomenon that constrains ploidy levels in species evolution.
2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.