Table of Contents
International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 2012, Article ID 292068, 12 pages
Review Article

Polyploidy and the Evolution of Complex Traits

1CMB, Karolinska Institute, 17177 Stockholm, Sweden
2DBB, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
3MU Informatics Institute, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
4Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211-5300, USA

Received 15 March 2012; Revised 29 May 2012; Accepted 5 June 2012

Academic Editor: Ben-Yang Liao

Copyright © 2012 Lukasz Huminiecki and Gavin C. Conant. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We explore how whole-genome duplications (WGDs) may have given rise to complex innovations in cellular networks, innovations that could not have evolved through sequential single-gene duplications. We focus on two classical WGD events, one in bakers’ yeast and the other at the base of vertebrates (i.e., two rounds of whole-genome duplication: 2R-WGD). Two complex adaptations are discussed in detail: aerobic ethanol fermentation in yeast and the rewiring of the vertebrate developmental regulatory network through the 2R-WGD. These two examples, derived from diverged branches on the eukaryotic tree, boldly underline the evolutionary potential of WGD in facilitating major evolutionary transitions. We close by arguing that the evolutionary importance of WGD may require updating certain aspects of modern evolutionary theory, perhaps helping to synthesize a new evolutionary systems biology.