Whole genome duplication, or polyploidy, is a common process in plants by which failures in meiosis or fertilization result in offspring with twice the number of chromosomes. This doubles the number of copies of every gene, an effect thought to generate new ‘raw material' upon which natural selection can act. Few studies exist examining the consequences of polyploidy for plant physiological traits. Doubling the number of gene copies may have unknown effects on leaf structure and function. In this study, I compare diploid, tetraploid, and hexaploid species within the genus Helianthus (wild sunflowers). Forty different accessions of wild sunflowers were grown under standardized greenhouse conditions and phenotyped for both leaf functional traits and leaf hyperspectral reflectance. Interestingly, I find that whole genome duplication can have effects on leaf functional traits relevant to both size and ecophysiology, and thus that polyploidy may lead to functional trait differentiation between polyploids and their diploid progenitors.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Robinson, Anestacia S., "Role of Polyploidy in Leaf Functional Trait Evolution Across Wild Helianthus" (2020). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 840.