Genome-material costs and functional trade-offs in the autopolyploid Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod) series

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Premise: Increased genome-material costs of N and P atoms inherent to organisms with larger genomes have been proposed to limit growth under nutrient scarcities and to promote growth under nutrient enrichments. Such responsiveness may reflect a nutrient-dependent diploid versus polyploid advantage that could have vast ecological and evolutionary implications, but direct evidence that material costs increase with ploidy level and/or influence cytotype-dependent growth, metabolic, and/or resource-use trade-offs is limited. Methods: We grew diploid, autotetraploid, and autohexaploid Solidago gigantea plants with one of four ambient or enriched N:P ratios and measured traits related to material costs, primary and secondary metabolism, and resource-use. Results: Relative to diploids, polyploids invested more N and P into cells, and tetraploids grew more with N enrichments, suggesting that material costs increase with ploidy level. Polyploids also generally exhibited strategies that could minimize material-cost constraints over both long (reduced monoploid genome size) and short (more extreme transcriptome downsizing, reduced photosynthesis rates and terpene concentrations, enhanced N-use efficiencies) evolutionary time periods. Furthermore, polyploids had lower transpiration rates but higher water-use efficiencies than diploids, both of which were more pronounced under nutrient-limiting conditions. Conclusions: N and P material costs increase with ploidy level, but material-cost constraints might be lessened by resource allocation/investment mechanisms that can also alter ecological dynamics and selection. Our results enhance mechanistic understanding of how global increases in nutrients might provide a release from material-cost constraints in polyploids that could impact ploidy (or genome-size)-specific performances, cytogeographic patterning, and multispecies community structuring.

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American Journal of Botany