Nature Reviews Genetics 10, 725-732 (October 2009) | doi:10.1038/nrg2600

OpinionThe evolutionary significance of ancient genome duplications

See also: Correspondence by Abbasi | Correspondence by Van de Peer et al.

Yves Van de Peer1, Steven Maere1 & Axel Meyer2  About the authors


Many organisms are currently polyploid, or have a polyploid ancestry and now have secondarily 'diploidized' genomes. This finding is surprising because retained whole-genome duplications (WGDs) are exceedingly rare, suggesting that polyploidy is usually an evolutionary dead end. We argue that ancient genome doublings could probably have survived only under very specific conditions, but that, whenever established, they might have had a pronounced impact on species diversification, and led to an increase in biological complexity and the origin of evolutionary novelties.

Author affiliations

  1. Yves Van de Peer and Steven Maere are at the Department of Plant Systems Biology, VIB (Flanders Institute of Biotechnology), B-9052 Ghent, Belgium, and the Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Genomics research group, Department of Plant Biotechnology and Genetics, Ghent University, B-9052 Ghent, Belgium.
  2. Axel Meyer is at the Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, D-78457 Konstanz, Germany, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Wallotstrabetae 19, D-14193 Berlin, Germany.

Correspondence to: Yves Van de Peer1 Email:

Published online 4 August 2009


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