Heredity (Edinb) 127 (1) 124-134 [2021-07-00; online 2021-04-19]
Polyploidy, or whole-genome duplication, is a common speciation mechanism in plants. An important barrier to polyploid establishment is a lack of compatible mates. Because self-compatibility alleviates this problem, it has long been hypothesized that there should be an association between polyploidy and self-compatibility (SC), but empirical support for this prediction is mixed. Here, we investigate whether the molecular makeup of the Brassicaceae self-incompatibility (SI) system, and specifically dominance relationships among S-haplotypes mediated by small RNAs, could facilitate loss of SI in allopolyploid crucifers. We focus on the allotetraploid species Capsella bursa-pastoris, which formed ~300 kya by hybridization and whole-genome duplication involving progenitors from the lineages of Capsella orientalis and Capsella grandiflora. We conduct targeted long-read sequencing to assemble and analyze eight full-length S-locus haplotypes, representing both homeologous subgenomes of C. bursa-pastoris. We further analyze small RNA (sRNA) sequencing data from flower buds to identify candidate dominance modifiers. We find that C. orientalis-derived S-haplotypes of C. bursa-pastoris harbor truncated versions of the male SI specificity gene SCR and express a conserved sRNA-based candidate dominance modifier with a target in the C. grandiflora-derived S-haplotype. These results suggest that pollen-level dominance may have facilitated loss of SI in C. bursa-pastoris. Finally, we demonstrate that spontaneous somatic tetraploidization after a wide cross between C. orientalis and C. grandiflora can result in production of self-compatible tetraploid offspring. We discuss the implications of this finding on the mode of formation of this widespread weed.