Double the trouble (and double the gain?): Understanding whole genome duplication 

What happens when an organism duplicates its entire genome? How does that complicate physiology? Can it promote evolution?


Lead researcher: Professor Levi Yant

The sudden duplication of an entire genome is perhaps most dramatic mutation possible. In a single generation – a blink in evolutionary time - whole genome duplication (WGD) presents novel dynamics to the confined environment of the nucleus. How is this endured? 

By this sudden step, WGD lineages have engaged in a high-risk, high-gain strategy: on the one hand there is a concrete problem presented by having to manage all that DNA - having too many chromosome crossovers when the cells divide – but on the other hand there is potential gain created through increasing the evolutionary potential encoded by twice as many gene variants. 

This project focuses on the repeatability of WGD-associated adaptations that have repeatedly occurred across the plant and animal kingdoms. Using large-scale comparative genomics and population genomics, this project examines different, independently-derived polyploid plant and amphibian species.

This fundamental work has implications for helping enhance crop resilience, as a clear majority of crop species are WGD and WGD is associated with increased adaptability during stress.

This project is funded by ERC.



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