Polyploidy (the presence of multiple genome copies in a cell) is widespread across the plant kingdom, despite it representing a severe mutation with numerous genetic, physiological and ecological consequences for plant life. What are the key mechanisms allowing a newly formed polyploid to succeed? Gene flow from its diploid relatives could help the polyploid to gain additional variation and to establish itself in nature. In contrast to recent discoveries of ubiquity of gene flow in adaptation, we know little about this process in polyploids, mainly due to the technical challenges of population genomics in polyploids. By studying Arabidopsis arenosa, naturally encompassing both diploid and its autotetraploid derivative, we may overcome many of these obstacles. Using genomic resequencing, manipulated crossings and embryology we aim to characterize the permeability of the ploidy barrier. We will do this over multiple natural populations as well as different regions of the genome, and will test for any potential adaptive value of cross-ploidy introgression.
Funding: Junior group leader research project of Charles University in Prague (Primus/SCI/35)