Parental legacy, demography, and admixture influenced the evolution of the two subgenomes of the tetraploid Capsella bursa-pastoris (Brassicaceae)

PLoS Genet. 2019 Feb 15;15(2):e1007949. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007949. eCollection 2019 Feb.


Allopolyploidy is generally perceived as a major source of evolutionary novelties and as an instantaneous way to create isolation barriers. However, we do not have a clear understanding of how two subgenomes evolve and interact once they have fused in an allopolyploid species nor how isolated they are from their relatives. Here, we address these questions by analyzing genomic and transcriptomic data of allotetraploid Capsella bursa-pastoris in three differentiated populations, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. We phased the two subgenomes, one descended from the outcrossing and highly diverse Capsella grandiflora (CbpCg) and the other one from the selfing and genetically depauperate Capsella orientalis (CbpCo). For each subgenome, we assessed its relationship with the diploid relatives, temporal changes of effective population size (Ne), signatures of positive and negative selection, and gene expression patterns. In all three regions, Ne of the two subgenomes decreased gradually over time and the CbpCo subgenome accumulated more deleterious changes than CbpCg. There were signs of widespread admixture between C. bursa-pastoris and its diploid relatives. The two subgenomes were impacted differentially depending on geographic region suggesting either strong interploidy gene flow or multiple origins of C. bursa-pastoris. Selective sweeps were more common on the CbpCg subgenome in Europe and the Middle East, and on the CbpCo subgenome in Asia. In contrast, differences in expression were limited with the CbpCg subgenome slightly more expressed than CbpCo in Europe and the Middle-East. In summary, after more than 100,000 generations of co-existence, the two subgenomes of C. bursa-pastoris still retained a strong signature of parental legacy but their evolutionary trajectory strongly varied across geographic regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Capsella / classification
  • Capsella / genetics*
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • Diploidy
  • Europe
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetics, Population
  • Genome, Plant*
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Middle East
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • Phylogeny
  • Phylogeography
  • Polyploidy
  • Species Specificity
  • Tetraploidy*


  • DNA, Plant

Grant support

This study was supported by grants from the Swedish Research Council (VR,, 2012-04999, 2015-03797) and the Erik Philip-Sörensens Stiftelse ( to ML, and by NSERC discovery grants ( to JRS and SIW. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.