Towards the new normal: Transcriptomic convergence and genomic legacy of the two subgenomes of an allopolyploid weed (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

PLoS Genet. 2019 May 13;15(5):e1008131. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008131. eCollection 2019 May.


Allopolyploidy has played a major role in plant evolution but its impact on genome diversity and expression patterns remains to be understood. Some studies found important genomic and transcriptomic changes in allopolyploids, whereas others detected a strong parental legacy and more subtle changes. The allotetraploid C. bursa-pastoris originated around 100,000 years ago and one could expect the genetic polymorphism of the two subgenomes to follow similar trajectories and their transcriptomes to start functioning together. To test this hypothesis, we sequenced the genomes and the transcriptomes (three tissues) of allotetraploid C. bursa-pastoris and its parental species, the outcrossing C. grandiflora and the self-fertilizing C. orientalis. Comparison of the divergence in expression between subgenomes, on the one hand, and divergence in expression between the parental species, on the other hand, indicated a strong parental legacy with a majority of genes exhibiting a conserved pattern and cis-regulation. However, a large proportion of the genes that were differentially expressed between the two subgenomes, were also under trans-regulation reflecting the establishment of a new regulatory pattern. Parental dominance varied among tissues: expression in flowers was closer to that of C. orientalis and expression in root and leaf to that of C. grandiflora. Since deleterious mutations accumulated preferentially on the C. orientalis subgenome, the bias in expression towards C. orientalis observed in flowers indicates that expression changes could be adaptive and related to the selfing syndrome, while biases in the roots and leaves towards the C. grandiflora subgenome may be reflective of the differential genetic load.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Capsella / genetics*
  • Flowers / physiology
  • Genome, Plant / genetics
  • Genomics
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Polyploidy
  • Self-Fertilization
  • Transcriptome / genetics

Grant support

The study was financed by grants from the Swedish Research Council (, grant 2015-03797 to ML, and a grant from the Erik Philip-Sörensens Stiftelse ( also to ML. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.