Polyploids increase overall diversity despite higher turnover than diploids in the Brassicaceae

Cristian Román-Palacios, Y. Franchesco Molina-Henao, Michael S. Barker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Although polyploidy is widespread across the plant Tree of Life, its long-term evolutionary significance is still poorly understood. Here, we examine the effects of polyploidy in explaining the large-scale evolutionary patterns within angiosperms by focusing on a single family exhibiting extensive interspecific variation in chromosome numbers. We inferred ploidy from haploid chromosome numbers for 80% of species in the most comprehensive species-level chronogram for the Brassicaceae. After evaluating a total of 94 phylogenetic models of diversification, we found that ploidy influences diversification rates across the Brassicaceae. We also found that despite diversifying at a similar rate to diploids, polyploids have played a significant role in driving present-day differences in species richness among clades. Overall, in addition to highlighting the complexity in the evolutionary consequences of polyploidy, our results suggest that rare successful polyploids persist while significantly contributing to the long-term evolution of clades. Our findings further indicate that polyploidy has played a major role in driving the long-term evolution of the Brassicaceae and highlight the potential of polyploidy in shaping present-day diversity patterns across the plant Tree of Life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20200962
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1934
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • diversification
  • evolution
  • ploidy
  • species richness
  • whole-genome duplications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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