The basis of natural and artificial postzygotic hybridization barriers in Arabidopsis species

Catherine Bushell, Melissa Spielman, Rod J. Scott

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116 Citations (SciVal)


The success or failure of interspecific crosses is vital to evolution and to agriculture, but much remains to be learned about the nature of hybridization barriers. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain postzygotic barriers, including negative interactions between diverged sequences, global genome rearrangements, and widespread epigenetic reprogramming. Another explanation is imbalance of paternally and maternally imprinted genes in the endosperm. Interspecific crosses between diploid Arabidopsis thaliana as the seed parent and tetraploid Arabidopsis arenosa as the pollen parent produced seeds that aborted with the same paternal excess endosperm phenotype seen in crosses between diploid and hexaploid A. thaliana. Doubling maternal ploidy restored seed viability and normal endosperm morphology. However, substituting a hypomethylated tetraploid A. thaliana seed parent reestablished the hybridization barrier by causing seed abortion and a lethal paternal excess phenotype. We conclude from these findings that the dominant cause of seed abortion in the diploid A. thaliana X tetraploid A. arenosa cross is parental genomic imbalance. Our results also demonstrate that manipulation of DNA methylation can be sufficient to erect hybridization barriers, offering a potential mechanism for speciation and a means of controlling gene flow between species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1430-1442
Number of pages13
JournalThe Plant Cell
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003


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