We investigate the timing of diversification in allopolyploids of Nicotiana (Solanaceae) utilising sequence data of maternal and paternal origin to look for evidence of a lag phase during which diploidisation took place. Bayesian relaxed clock phylogenetic methods show recent allopolyploids are a result of several unique polyploidisation events, and older allopolyploid sections have undergone subsequent speciation at the polyploid level (i.e. a number of these polyploid species share a singular origin). The independently formed recent polyploid species in the genus all have mean age estimates below 1 million years ago (Ma). Nicotiana section Polydicliae (two species) evolved 1.5 Ma, N. section Repandae (four species) formed 4 Ma, and N. section Suaveolentes (~35 species) is about 6 million years old. A general trend of higher speciation rates in older polyploids is evident, but diversification dramatically increases at approximately 6 Ma (in section Suaveolentes). Nicotiana sect. Suaveolentes has spectacularly radiated to form 35 species in Australia and some Pacific islands following a lag phase of almost 6 million years. Species have filled new ecological niches and undergone extensive diploidisation (e.g. chromosome fusions bringing the ancestral allotetraploid number, n = 24, down to n = 15 and ribosomal loci numbers back to diploid condition). Considering the progenitors of Suaveolentes inhabit South America, this represents the colonisation of Australia by polyploids that have subsequently undergone a recent radiation into new environments. To our knowledge, this study is the first report of a substantial lag phase being investigated below the family level.
- lag phase
- time-calibrated phylogenetic tree
- whole-genome duplication