Quantitative genetic variation of leaf size and shape in a mixed diploid and triploid population of Populus

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In the interspecific cross of Populus trichocarpa x P. deltoides, unexpected simultaneous occurrence of diploid hybrids and triploid hybrids (with two alleles from the female parent and one from the male parent at each locus) led us to examine the evolutionary genetic significance of this phenomenon. As expected, leaf size and shape of the triploid progeny are closer to the female P. trichocarpa than male P. deltoides parent. Although the pure triploid progeny population did not have higher genetic variance in leaf traits than the pure diploid population, the former appears to hide much non-additive genetic variance and display strong genetic control over the phenotypic plasticity of leaf traits. It is suggested that the cryptic non-additive variance, especially epistasis, can be released when a population is disturbed by changes in the environment. A mixed diploid and triploid progeny population combines phenotypic and genetic characteristics of both pure hybrids and is considered to be of adaptive significance for poplars to survive and evolve in a fluctuating environment. The significant effect due to general and specific combining ability differences at the population level suggests that the population divergence of these two species is under additive and non-additive genetic control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-222
Number of pages8
JournalGenetical research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics


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