The global biogeography of polyploid plants

Anna Rice, Petr Šmarda, Maria Novosolov, Michal Drori, Lior Glick, Niv Sabath, Shai Meiri, Jonathan Belmaker, Itay Mayrose*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


Deciphering the global distribution of polyploid plants is fundamental for understanding plant evolution and ecology. Many factors have been hypothesized to affect the uneven distribution of polyploid plants across the globe. Nevertheless, the lack of large comparative datasets has restricted such studies to local floras and to narrow taxonomical scopes, limiting our understanding of the underlying drivers of polyploid plant distribution. We present a map portraying the worldwide polyploid frequencies, based on extensive spatial data coupled with phylogeny-based polyploidy inference for tens of thousands of species. This allowed us to assess the potential global drivers affecting polyploid distribution. Our data reveal a clear latitudinal trend, with polyploid frequency increasing away from the equator. Climate, especially temperature, appears to be the most influential predictor of polyploid distribution. However, we find this effect to be mostly indirect, mediated predominantly by variation in plant lifeforms and, to a lesser extent, by taxonomical composition and species richness. Thus, our study presents an emerging view of polyploid distribution that highlights attributes that facilitate the establishment of new polyploid lineages by providing polyploids with sufficient time (that is, perenniality) and space (low species richness) to compete with pre-adapted diploid relatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-273
Number of pages9
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019


FundersFunder number
Grantová Agentura České RepublikyP505 14–30313S
Grantová Agentura České Republiky
Israel Science Foundation961/17
Israel Science Foundation


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