Both ploidy and hybridity affect cell size and growth vigor in plants and animals, but the relative effects of genome dosage and hybridization on biomass, fitness, and gene expression changes have not been systematically examined. Here we performed the first comparative analysis of seed, cell, and flower sizes, starch and chlorophyll content, biomass, and gene expression changes in diploid, triploid, and tetraploid hybrids and their respective parents in three Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes: Columbia, C24, and Landsberg erecta (Ler). Ploidy affects many morphological and fitness traits, including stomatal size, flower size, and seed weight, whereas hybridization between the ecotypes leads to altered expression of central circadian clock genes and increased starch and chlorophyll content, biomass, and seed weight. However, varying ploidy levels has subtle effects on biomass, circadian clock gene expression, and chlorophyll and starch content. Interestingly, biomass, starch content, and seed weight are significantly different between the reciprocal hybrids at all ploidy levels tested, with the lowest and highest levels found in the reciprocal triploid hybrids, suggesting parent-of-origin effects on biomass, starch content, and seed weight. These findings provide new insights into molecular events of polyploidy and heterosis, as well as complex agronomic traits that are important to biomass and seed production in hybrid and polyploid crops.
- Circadian clock
- Gene expression