Phenotypic effects of allotetraploidization of wild Arachis and their implications for peanut domestication

PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Several species of Arachis have been cultivated for their edible seeds, historically and to the present day. The diploid species that have a history of cultivation show relatively small signatures of domestication. In contrast, the tetraploid species A. hypogaea evolved into highly domesticated forms and became a major world crop, the cultivated peanut. It seems likely that allotetraploidization (hybridity and/or tetraploidization) in some way enhanced attractiveness for cultivation. Here we investigate this using six different hybridization and tetraploidization events, from distinct Arachis diploid species, including one event derived from the same wild species that originated peanut.
METHODS: Twenty-six anatomical, morphological, and physiological traits were examined in the induced allotetraploid plants and compared with their wild diploid parents.
KEY RESULTS: Nineteen traits were transgressive (showed strong response to hybridization and chromosome duplication): allotetraploids had larger leaves, stomata and epidermal cells than did their diploid parents. In addition, allotetraploids produced more photosynthetic pigments. These traits have the same trend across the different hybrid combinations, suggesting that the changes are more likely due to ploidy rather than hybridity. In contrast, seed dimensions and seed mass did not significantly change in response to hybridization or tetraploidization.
CONCLUSIONS: We suggest that the original allotetraploid that gave rise to cultivated peanut may have been attractive because of an increase in plant size, different transpiration characteristics, higher photosynthetic capacity, or other characteristics, but contrary to accepted knowledge, increased seed size was unlikely to have been important in the initial domestication.
Category: Genetic diversity
Authors: Leal-Bertioli, S.C.M., et al.
Journal/Series: American Journal of Botany
Publication Year: 2017

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