Rapid concerted evolution of nuclear ribosomal DNA in two tragopogon allopolyploids of recent and recurrent origin
We investigated concerted evolution of rRNA genes in multiple populations of Tragopogon mirus and T. miscellus, two allotetraploids that formed recurrently within the last 80 years following the introduction of three diploids (T. dubius, T. pratensis, and T. porrifolius) from Europe to North America. Using the earliest herbarium specimens of the allotetraploids (1949 and 1953) to represent the genomic condition near the time of polyploidization, we found that the parental rDNA repeats were inherited in roughly equal numbers. In contrast, in most present-day populations of both tetraploids, the rDNA of T. dubius origin is reduced and may occupy as little as 5% of total rDNA in some individuals. However, in two populations of T mirus the repeats of T dubius origin outnumber the repeats of the second diploid parent (T porrifolius), indicating bidirectional concerted evolution within a single species. In plants of T. miscellus having a low rDNA contribution from T. dubius, the rDNA of T. dubius was nonetheless expressed. We have apparently caught homogenization of rDNA repeats (concerted evolution) in the act, although it has not proceeded to completion in any allopolyploid population yet examined.