Experimental Hybridization Reveals Biased Inheritance of the Internal Transcribed Spacer of the Nuclear Ribosomal DNA in Begonia ×taipeiensis
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× taipeiensis C.-I Peng, a naturally occurring hybrid resulting from B. formosana × B. aptera, in Taiwan. To understand the inheritance of ribosomal DNA in unidirectional hybridization, experiments were conducted using B. formosana and B. aptera as ovule and pollen donors, respectively. The internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) of nuclear ribosomal DNA was amplified from the artificial hybrids, parental species, and natural hybrids. In contrast to the single type of ITS in the parental species, multiple sequences were cloned from both natural and artificial hybrids. A split decomposition network based on ITS nucleotide variation revealed that all but one (clone B14) of the hybrid sequences were “phylogenetically” closely related to B. formosana. Apparently, in such unidirectional hybridization, maternal DNA provided most of phylogenetic information. In the hybrid sequences, in addition to additive polymorphisms inherited from maternal (38.1%) and paternal (30.1%) plants, a novel nucleotide composition (31.8%) was also detected. The “new” characters are seen as noise in phylogenetic inference. They were probably obtained via intramolecular recombination, as gene conversion was not detected. The occurrence of genetic recombination appeared to be nonrandom, with a higher frequency in the ITS1 (3.14%) and ITS2 (3.42%) regions than in the 5.8S RNA gene (2.22%). Given the lack of sexual recombination in B. × taipeiensis and short time span, unequal crossing-over likely contributed to the heterogeneity of the ITS composition in the nuclear genome. Although the sterile hybrids have not attained their own lineage independent from the parental species, a high level of genetic diversity is transmitted asexually and maintained in these plants.
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