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Data from: A high frequency of allopolyploid speciation in the gymnospermous genus Ephedra and its possible association with some biological and ecological features

Citation

Wu, Hui et al. (2015), Data from: A high frequency of allopolyploid speciation in the gymnospermous genus Ephedra and its possible association with some biological and ecological features, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.kb508

Abstract

The origin and evolution of polyploids have been studied extensively in angiosperms and ferns but very rarely in gymnosperms. With the exception of three species of conifers, all natural polyploid species of gymnosperms belong to Ephedra, in which more than half of the species show polyploid cytotypes. Here we investigate the origin and evolution of polyploids of Ephedra distributed in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) and neighboring areas. Flow cytometry (FCM) was used to measure the ploidy levels of the sampled species that are represented by multiple individuals from different populations, and then two single-copy nuclear genes (LFY and DDB2) and two chloroplast DNA fragments were used to unravel the possible origins and maternal donors of the polyploids. The results indicate that the studied polyploid species are allopolyploids, and suggest that allotetraploidy is a dominant mode of speciation in Ephedra. The high percentage of polyploids in the genus could be related to some of its biological attributes such as vegetative propagation, a relatively high rate of unreduced gamete formation, and a small genome size relative to most other gymnosperms. Significant ecological divergences between allotetraploids and their putative progenitors were detected by PCA analyses and ANOVA and Tukey’s tests, with the exception of E. saxatilis. The overlap of geographical distributions and ecological niches of some diploid species could have provided opportunities for interspecific hybridization and allopolyploid speciation.

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