The influence of allopolyploidy on the evolution and expression of rDNA loci in plants (Evolution of rDNA)
Polyploidy (multiplication of chromosome sets) has long been a central focus in plant evolutionary biology (i.e. as a speciation mechanism), ecology (e.g. biological invasion) and agronomy (most important crops are recent polyploids). The ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) are essential components of every cell playing the pivotal role in cellular metabolism and genome stability. Despite considerable sequence conservation rDNA exhibits striking diversity in position on chromosomes and locus numbers. The biological significance of this diversity remains unresolved. Here we propose to study the genetic and epigenetic consequences of allopolyploidy (a process where polyploidy is preceded by interspecies hybridization) on rDNA loci in recently formed allopolyploids (including invasive species) and synthetic allopolyploid lines. We will analyse intergenomic chromosome breakpoints to assess the role of rDNA in chromosome stabilisation. We will also address the question of the relationship between rDNA multiplicity, intragenomic homogeneity and genome size in the evolution of land plants.
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