Is post-polyploidization diploidization the key to the evolutionary success of angiosperms?

Steven Dodsworth*, Mark W. Chase, Andrew R. Leitch

*Corresponding author for this work

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Advances in recent years have revolutionized our understanding of both the context and occurrence of polyploidy in plants. Molecular phylogenetics has vastly improved our understanding of plant relationships, enabling us to better understand trait and character evolution, including chromosome number changes. This, in turn, has allowed us to appreciate better the frequent occurrence and extent of polyploidy throughout the history of angiosperms, despite the occurrence of low chromosome numbers in some groups, such as in Arabidopsis (A.thaliana was the first plant genome to be sequenced and assembled). In tandem with an enhanced appreciation of phylogenetic relationships, the accumulation of genomic data has led to the conclusion that all angiosperms are palaeopolyploids, together with better estimates of the frequency and type of polyploidy in different angiosperm lineages. The focus therefore becomes when a lineage last underwent polyploidization, rather than simply whether a plant is 'diploid' or 'polyploid'. This legacy of past polyploidization in plants is masked by large-scale genome reorganization involving repetitive DNA loss, chromosome rearrangements (including fusions and fissions) and complex patterns of gene loss, a set of processes that are collectively termed 'diploidization'. We argue here that it is the diploidization process that is responsible for the 'lag phase' between polyploidization events and lineage diversification. If so, diploidization is important in determining chromosome structure and gene content, and has therefore made a significant contribution to the evolutionary success of flowering plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalBotanical Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • chromosome number
  • flowering plants
  • genome downsizing
  • genome rearrangement
  • genomics
  • lag phase
  • polyploidy
  • WGD radiation lag-time model
  • UKRI
  • NERC


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