Expression level dominance and homeolog expression bias in recurrent origins of the allopolyploid fern polypodium hesperium

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© 2019 American Fern Society. All rights reserved. Allopolyploidization is a common mode of speciation in ferns with many taxa having formed recurrently from distinct hybridization events between the same parent species. Each hybridization event marks the union of divergent parental gene copies, or homeologs, and the formation of an independently derived lineage. Little is known about the effects of recurrent origins on the genomic composition and phenotypic variation of allopolyploid fern taxa. To begin to address this knowledge gap, we investigated gene expression patterns in two naturally formed, independently derived lineages of the allotetraploid fern Polypodium hesperium relative to its diploid progenitor species, Polypodium amorphum and Polypodium glycyrrhiza. Using RNA-sequencing to survey total gene expression levels for 19194 genes and homeolog-specific expression for 1073 genes, we found that, in general, gene expression in both lineages of P. hesperium was biased toward P. amorphum - both by mirroring expression levels of P. amorphum and preferentially expressing homeologs derived from P. amorphum. However, we recovered substantial expression variation between the two lineages at the level of individual genes and among individual specimens. Our results align with similar transcriptome profile studies of angiosperms, suggesting that expression in many allopolyploid plants reflects the dominance of a specific parental subgenome, but that recurrent origins impart substantial expression, or phenotypic, variation to allopolyploid taxa.





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Sigel, EM, JP Der, MD Windham and KM Pryer (2019). Expression level dominance and homeolog expression bias in recurrent origins of the allopolyploid fern polypodium hesperium. American Fern Journal, 109(3). pp. 224–247. 10.1640/0002-8444-109.3.224 Retrieved from

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Kathleen M. Pryer

Professor of Biology

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