Case Studies

Plants: Who’s the daddy? — Polyploidy and plant evolution

The evolutionary biologist Sean Carroll has called DNA the ‘forensic evidence’ for evolution. That’s certainly true here, because without DNA sequence data it would be difficult if not impossible to unravel the relationships between the species of tobacco plants that form the basis of this Case Study.

Students use data from both the nuclear and chloroplast genomes of Nicotiana species to determine ‘Who’s the daddy’ (and ‘Who’s the Mummy’ too). In so doing, they are introduced to the concept of polyploidy, which is of great importance in plant speciation and in agriculture.

Case study written by: James Clarkson, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Edited by Dean Madden, NCBE, University of Reading.