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Phylogeny of a Genomically Diverse Group of Elymus (Poaceae) Allopolyploids Reveals Multiple Levels of Reticulation

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journal contribution
posted on 25.08.2016, 00:00 by Roberta J. Mason-Gamer
The grass tribe Triticeae (=Hordeeae) comprises only about 300 species, but it is well known for the economically important crop plants wheat, barley, and rye. The group is also recognized as a fascinating example of evolutionary complexity, with a history shaped by numerous events of auto- and allopolyploidy and apparent introgression involving diploids and polyploids. The genus Elymus comprises a heterogeneous collection of allopolyploid genome combinations, all of which include at least one set of homoeologs, designated St, derived from Pseudoroegneria. The current analysis includes a geographically and genomically diverse collection of 21 tetraploid Elymus species, and a single hexaploid species. Diploid and polyploid relationships were estimated using four molecular data sets, including one that combines two regions of the chloroplast genome, and three from unlinked nuclear genes: phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase, β-amylase, and granule-bound starch synthase I. Four gene trees were generated using maximum likelihood, and the phylogenetic placement of the polyploid sequences reveals extensive reticulation beyond allopolyploidy alone. The trees were interpreted with reference to numerous phenomena known to complicate allopolyploid phylogenies, and introgression was identified as a major factor in their history. The work illustrates the interpretation of complicated phylogenetic results through the sequential consideration of numerous possible explanations, and the results highlight the value of careful inspection of multiple independent molecular phylogenetic estimates, with particular focus on the differences among them.


The work was supported by National Science Foundation DEB-9974181 (


Publisher Statement

This is a copy of an article published in the PLoS ONE. © 2013 Roberta J. Mason-Gamer.


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