Phylogenetic evidence for cladogenetic polyploidization in land plants

Shing H. Zhan, Michal Drori, Emma E. Goldberg, Sarah P. Otto, Itay Mayrose*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Polyploidization is a common and recurring phenomenon in plants and is often thought to be a mechanism of “instant speciation”. Whether polyploidization is associated with the formation of new species (cladogenesis) or simply occurs over time within a lineage (anagenesis), however, has never been assessed systematically. METHODS: We tested this hypothesis using phylogenetic and karyotypic information from 235 plant genera (mostly angiosperms). We fi rst constructed a large database of combined sequence and chromosome number data sets using an automated procedure. We then applied likelihood models (ClaSSE) that estimate the degree of synchronization between polyploidization and speciation events in maximum likelihood and Bayesian frameworks. KEY RESULTS: Our maximum likelihood analysis indicated that 35 genera supported a model that includes cladogenetic transitions over a model with only anagenetic transitions, whereas three genera supported a model that incorporates anagenetic transitions over one with only cladogenetic transitions. Furthermore, the Bayesian analysis supported a preponderance of cladogenetic change in four genera but did not support a preponderance of anagenetic change in any genus. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, these phylogenetic analyses provide the fi rst broad confi rmation that polyploidization is temporally associated with speciation events, suggesting that it is indeed a major speciation mechanism in plants, at least in some genera.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1252-1258
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2016


FundersFunder number
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation2013286
Israel Science Foundation1265/12
University of British Columbia


    • Anagenesis
    • ClaSSE
    • Cladogenesis
    • Polyploidy
    • Speciation


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