Open Access Research article

Interspecific and interploidal gene flow in Central European Arabidopsis (Brassicaceae)

Marte H Jørgensen1*, Dorothee Ehrich2, Roswitha Schmickl3, Marcus A Koch3 and Anne K Brysting1

Author affiliations

1 Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1066 Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway

2 Institute for Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø, NO-9037 Tromsø, Norway

3 Centre for Organismal Studies (COS) Heidelberg, Department of Biodiversity and Plant Systematics, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 345, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany

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Citation and License

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:346  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-346

Published: 29 November 2011



Effects of polyploidisation on gene flow between natural populations are little known. Central European diploid and tetraploid populations of Arabidopsis arenosa and A. lyrata are here used to study interspecific and interploidal gene flow, using a combination of nuclear and plastid markers.


Ploidal levels were confirmed by flow cytometry. Network analyses clearly separated diploids according to species. Tetraploids and diploids were highly intermingled within species, and some tetraploids intermingled with the other species, as well. Isolation with migration analyses suggested interspecific introgression from tetraploid A. arenosa to tetraploid A. lyrata and vice versa, and some interploidal gene flow, which was unidirectional from diploid to tetraploid in A. arenosa and bidirectional in A. lyrata.


Interspecific genetic isolation at diploid level combined with introgression at tetraploid level indicates that polyploidy may buffer against negative consequences of interspecific hybridisation. The role of introgression in polyploid systems may, however, differ between plant species, and even within the small genus Arabidopsis, we find very different evolutionary fates when it comes to introgression.