Endoreduplication, the replication of the genome without mitosis, leads to endopolyploidy, an increase in cellular chromosome number. Although endoreduplication is widespread among angiosperms and other groups of eukaryotes, the degree to which this process is plastic under varying environmental conditions and its potential adaptive significance are not known. Here, using flow cytometry, we measured plasticity in chromosome number following the removal of apical dominance (simulating natural herbivory) in two ecotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana: Columbia and Landsberg erecta. We report that endopolyploidy of clipped Columbia plants was significantly different than unclipped controls following the removal of apical dominance and regrowth, and that cellular ploidy is positively associated with attributes of fitness (biomass, flower, fruit, and seed production). In contrast, clipped Landsberg erecta showed no significant differences in endopolyploidy and a decrease in seed production compared to unclipped controls; representing a significant genotype × environment interaction between ecotypes. Altering ploidy via endoreduplication adds a previously unknown way in which plants may be able to cope with environmental stress: enhancing regrowth rates and fitness following plant damage.
- Chromosomal plasticity
- DNA content
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics