Homoeolog expression bias and expression level dominance in allopolyploid cotton

Heredity (Edinb). 2013 Feb;110(2):171-80. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2012.94. Epub 2012 Nov 21.


Allopolyploidy is an evolutionary and mechanistically intriguing process, in that it entails the reconciliation of two or more sets of diverged genomes and regulatory interactions. In this study, we explored gene expression patterns in interspecific hybrid F(1), and synthetic and natural allopolyploid cotton using RNA-Seq reads from leaf transcriptomes. We determined how the extent and direction of expression level dominance (total level of expression for both homoeologs) and homoeolog expression bias (relative contribution of homoeologs to the transcriptome) changed from hybridization through evolution at the polyploid level and following cotton domestication. Genome-wide expression level dominance was biased toward the A-genome in the diploid hybrid and natural allopolyploids, whereas the direction was reversed in the synthetic allopolyploid. This biased expression level dominance was mainly caused by up- or downregulation of the homoeolog from the 'non-dominant' parent. Extensive alterations in homoeolog expression bias and expression level dominance accompany the initial merger of two diverged diploid genomes, suggesting a combination of regulatory (cis or trans) and epigenetic interactions that may arise and propagate through the transcriptome network. The extent of homoeolog expression bias and expression level dominance increases over time, from genome merger through evolution at the polyploid level. Higher rates of transgressive and novel gene expression patterns as well as homoeolog silencing were observed in natural allopolyploids than in F(1) hybrid and synthetic allopolyploid cottons. These observations suggest that natural selection reconciles the regulatory mismatches caused by initial genomic merger, while new gene expression conditions are generated for evaluation by selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Genes, Plant
  • Gossypium / genetics*
  • Gossypium / metabolism
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Plant Leaves / genetics*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Polyploidy*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Transcriptome


  • Plant Proteins