The huge amount of genetic data in chromosomes is attributed to the large diversity in plants. The structural and functional organization of a nuclear genome is represented by the karyotype. Thus, the karyotypes are complementary to the number of chromosomes in a cell. A constant karyotype in the next generation shows the transfer of complete genetic material, while a variable karyotype provides support to adaptation and ecological differentiation. This diversification takes place at both ploidy and chromosome levels, and it includes major genome alterations (duplication or hybridization) as well as minor chromosomal changes (aneuploidization and dysploidy). Polyploidy is a common phenomenon that plays a crucial role in these changes.
Reasons for change in chromosome number in plants:
Phenotypic adaptability: Plants need to adapt to different environmental changes, competition for survival, and also nutrient deprivation. Thus, the changes in chromosome number take place according to the need of a plant.
Presence of Transposons: Transposons are DNA sequences that are able to shift their position inside a genome. Their activities result in changes in chromosomal numbers by duplication or deletion of genetic material.
Cell division mechanisms: Mitosis and meiosis cause changes in a genome by permitting cytological mechanisms like interspecific hybridization.
Environmental effects: Environmental stress leads to ploidy changes and sometimes helps in speciation too.
Diversity in Chromosome Number in Different Plants:
The diversity in the plant kingdom is due to the variations found in the number of chromosomes in different plants. The changes in chromosome number can be represented in different ways as follows:
Polyploidy: When two or more sets of chromosomes are present within a single cell or an organism, the condition is named polyploidy.
Aneuploidy: If a chromosomal segment is lost or if a segment is gained then it is known as aneuploidy.
Autopolyploidy: It is a type of euploidy (chromosomal variation) where the addition of two or more sets of homologous chromosomes takes place.
Allopolyploidy: It involves the fusion of two or more sets of chromosomes from two different species.
Dysploidy: It is the rearrangement of a section of chromosome in such a way that DNA remains intact, but chromosome number will change.
Impact of Change in Chromosome Number:
Aneuploidy and speciation: Aneuploidy is considered as an important factor for speciation (evolutionary process for the formation of a new species). Aneuploidy affects the stability of gene expression by duplicating or deleting some chromosomal regions, and this sometimes causes detrimental effects. However, due to its effects on improved growth and proliferation of plants, it also has beneficial effects. Environmental forces lead to the rearrangement of chromosomes. Based on natural selection, the chromosome number changes. These changes in chromosomal numbers can be new or may follow the traits existing within populations. The outside forces also affect the non-homologous recombination frequencies, and thus a high rate of speciation takes place because of varieties of aneuploidy.
Polyploidy and its benefits: Polyploidy causes three events: heterosis, gene redundancy, and asexual reproduction.
Heterosis leads to improved vigor than the diploid progenitors.
Gene redundancy prevents the cells from the harmful effects of mutations.
The mechanistic connection between asexual reproduction and polyploidy is still unclear, but it is known to enable polyploids to reproduce in the absence of sexual mates.
Disadvantages of polyploidy:
Potential disrupting affects nuclear and cell enlargement.
Polyploidy affects mitosis and meiosis resulting in epigenetic instability.
Both triploidy and aneuploidy are resultant of highly stable polyploidy, and they cause disruption of genome regulation resulting in meiotically-unpaired DNA.
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