Molecular Data and Polyploid Evolution in Plants

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Abstract

Polyploidy is a significant force in plant evolution. Approximately 47% to 52% of all angiosperm species are polyploid (V. Grant, 1981). Estimates of the frequency of polyploidy in pteridophytes range from 43.5% for the ferns alone (Vida, 1976) to 95% for pteridophytes as a whole (V. Grant, 1981), suggesting ancient polyploidy in several lineages of pteridophytes. In byrophytes polyploidy is common in mosses, but rare in liverworts (V. Grant, 1981). In contrast to angiosperms, pteridophytes, and bryophytes, polyploidy in gymnosperms is very rare and sporadic. Polyploidy has not been detected in cycads or ginkgo, and only 1.5% of the species of Coniferales are polyploid (Khoshoo, 1959). In the Gnetales, tetraploidy is common in Ephedra and rare or nonexistent in Gnetum and Welwitschia (Delevoryas, 1980).