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      Does hybridization drive the transition to asexuality in diploid Boechera?

      Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution

      Apomixis, Biological Evolution, Brassicaceae, genetics, physiology, Diploidy, Genotype, Hybridization, Genetic, Microsatellite Repeats

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          Gametophytic apomixis is a common form of asexual reproduction in plants. Virtually all gametophytic apomicts are polyploids, and some view polyploidy as a prerequisite for the transition to apomixis. However, any causal link between apomixis and polyploidy is complicated by the fact that most apomictic polyploids are allopolyploids, leading some to speculate that hybridization, rather than polyploidy, enables apomixis. Diploid apomixis presents a rare opportunity to isolate the role of hybridization, and a number of diploid apomicts have been documented in the genus Boechera (Brassicaceae). Here, we present the results of a microsatellite study of 1393 morphologically and geographically diverse diploid individuals, evaluating the hypothesis that diploid Boechera apomicts are hybrids. This genus-wide dataset was made possible by the applicability of a core set of microsatellite loci in 69 of the 70 diploid Boechera species and by our ability to successfully genotype herbarium specimens of widely varying ages. With few exceptions, diploid apomicts exhibited markedly high levels of heterozygosity resulting from the combination of disparate genomes. This strongly suggests that most apomictic diploid Boechera lineages are of hybrid origin, and that the genomic consequences of hybridization allow for the transition to gametophytic apomixis in this genus. © 2011 The Author(s). Evolution© 2011 The Society for the Study of Evolution.

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