The Boechera holboellii complex comprises B. holboellii and B. drummondii, both of which can reproduce through sex or apomixis. Sexuality is associated with diploid individuals, whereas apomictic individuals are diploid or triploid and may additionally have B chromosomes. Using flow cytometry and karyotype analysis, we have shown that B chromosomes (a) occur in both diploid and triploid apomictic B. holboellii, (b) may occur in triploid B. drummondii, and (c) are dispensable for the plant. Both diploid and triploid karyotypes are found in multiple chloroplast haplotypes of both species, suggesting that triploid forms have originated multiple times during the evolution of this complex. B chromosome carriers are found in geographically and genetically distinct popu-lations, but it is unknown whether the extra chromosomes are shared by common descent (single origin) or have originated via introgressive hybridization and repeated transitions from diploidy to triploidy. Diploid plants containing the Bs reproduce apomictically, suggesting that the supernumerary elements are associated with apomixis. Finally, our analyses of pollen size and viability suggest that irregular chromosome segregation in some triploid lineages may lead to the generation of diploid individuals which carry the B chromosomes.
- molecular systematics
- rust infection