J Syst Evol ›› 2016, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (6): 638-655.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12226

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Genetic and genomic aspects of hybridization in ferns

Erin M. Sigel*   

  1. Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA
  • Received:2016-05-10 Published:2016-12-15

Abstract: The morphological and ecological intermediacy of hybrid taxa has long interested and challenged fern biologists, resulting in numerous systematic contributions focused on disentangling relationships within reticulate species complexes. From a genetic perspective, hybrid ferns are especially interesting because they represent the union of divergent parental genomes in unique evolutionary entities. This review summarizes advances in our knowledge of the genetic and genomic aspects of hybridization in ferns from the mid-20th century to the present. The different organismal products of hybridization, evolutionary aspects of additive and non-additive gene expression in allopolyploids, genetic and genomic mechanisms leading to gene silencing and loss, the roles of multiple origins and introgression for imparting genetic variation to hybrid fern taxa and their progenitors, and the utility of allopolyploid ferns to investigate mechanisms of genome evolution in the homosporous ferns are discussed. Comparisons are made to other plant lineages and important future research directions are highlighted, with the goal of stimulating additional research on hybrid ferns.

Key words: allopolyploidy, fixed heterozygosity, gene expression, genome evolution, homoploid hybrids, introgression, multiple origins, sterile hybrids