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Open Access Research article

Genomic expression dominance in allopolyploids

Ryan A Rapp1, Joshua A Udall2 and Jonathan F Wendel1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Bessey Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50010, USA

2 Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences, WIBD, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602, USA

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BMC Biology 2009, 7:18  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-7-18

Published: 1 May 2009



Allopolyploid speciation requires rapid evolutionary reconciliation of two diverged genomes and gene regulatory networks. Here we describe global patterns of gene expression accompanying genomic merger and doubling in inter-specific crosses in the cotton genus (Gossypium L.).


Employing a micro-array platform designed against 40,430 unigenes, we assayed gene expression in two sets of parental diploids and their colchicine-doubled allopolyploid derivatives. Up to half of all genes were differentially expressed among diploids, a striking level of expression evolution among congeners. In the allopolyploids, most genes were expressed at mid-parent levels, but this was achieved via a phenomenon of genome-wide expression dominance, whereby gene expression was either up- or down-regulated to the level of one of the two parents, independent of the magnitude of gene expression. This massive expression dominance was approximately equal with respect to direction (up- or down-regulation), and the same diploid parent could be either the dominant or the recessive genome depending on the specific genomic combination. Transgressive up- and down-regulation were also common in the allopolyploids, both for genes equivalently or differentially expressed between the parents.


Our data provide novel insights into the architecture of gene expression in the allopolyploid nucleus, raise questions regarding the responsible underlying mechanisms of genome dominance, and provide clues into the enigma of the evolutionary prevalence of allopolyploids.