Single Geographic Origin of a Widespread Autotetraploid Arabidopsis arenosa Lineage Followed by Interploidy Admixture

Mol Biol Evol. 2015 Jun;32(6):1382-95. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msv089. Epub 2015 Apr 10.


Whole-genome duplication, which leads to polyploidy, has been implicated in speciation and biological novelty. In plants, many species exhibit ploidy variation, which is likely representative of an early stage in the evolution of polyploid lineages. To understand the evolution of such multiploidy systems, we must address questions such as whether polyploid lineage(s) had a single or multiple origins, whether admixture occurs between ploidies, and the timescale over which ploidy variation affects the evolution of populations. Here we analyze three genomic data sets using nonparametric and parametric analyses, including coalescent-based methods, to study the evolutionary history of a geographically widespread autotetraploid variant of Arabidopsis arenosa, a new model system for understanding the molecular basis of autopolyploid evolution. Autotetraploid A. arenosa populations are widely distributed across much of Northern and Central Europe, whereas diploids occur in Eastern Europe and along the southern Baltic coast; the two ploidies overlap in the Carpathian Mountains. We find that the widespread autotetraploid populations we sampled likely arose from a single ancestral population approximately 11,000-30,000 generations ago in the Northern Carpathians, where its closest extant diploid relatives are found today. Afterward, the tetraploid population split into at least four major lineages that colonized much of Europe. Reconstructions of population history suggest that substantial interploidy admixture occurred in both directions, but only among geographically proximal populations. We find two cases in which selection likely acted on an introgressed locus, suggesting that persistent interploidy gene flow has a local influence on patterns of genetic variation in A. arenosa.

Keywords: admixture; biogeography; genome duplication; polyploidy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Computational Biology
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • Diploidy
  • Europe
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Flow
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genetics, Population
  • Genome, Plant*
  • Phylogeography
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Tetraploidy*


  • DNA, Plant