Allozyme evidence for genetic autopolyploidy and high genetic diversity in tetraploid cranberry, Vaccinium oxycoccos (Ericaceae)

G. Mahy, L. P. Bruederle, B. Connors, M. Van Hofwegen, N. Vorsa

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56 Scopus citations


Polyploidy has been important in the evolution of angiosperms and may significantly affect population genetic diversity and structure. Nineteen isoenzyme loci were studied in diploid and tetraploid populations of Vaccinium oxycoccos (Ericaceae), and the results are compared with data previously reported for the related V. macrocarpon. Diploid V. oxycoccos and V. macrocarpon were readily discriminated based on their allozymic variation. No evidence for fixed heterozygosity was found in tetraploid V. oxycoccos. In contrast, all polymorphic loci exhibited both balanced and unbalanced heterozygotes, with some individuals exhibiting a pattern consistent with the presence of three alleles. These results support an autopolyploid origin for tetraploid V. oxycoccos. However, tetraploid V. oxycoccos possessed a suite of alleles not found in diploid V. oxycoccos; half of these alleles were shared with V. macrocarpon. This suggests that autotetraploid V. oxycoccos may have undergone hybridization with V. macrocarpon or that the autotetraploid retained the genetic variation present in an ancestral diploid species. Following theoretical expectations, proportion of polymorphic loci, mean number of alleles, and observed heterozygosity were significantly higher for the autotetraploid than for the diploid. Mean inbreeding (FIS) was similar for diploid and tetraploid V. oxycoccos. The latter exhibited population differentiation (FST) exceeding both diploid species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1882-1889
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


  • Allozyme variation
  • Ericaceae
  • F statistics
  • Genetic diversity
  • Polyploidy
  • Vaccinium macrocarpon
  • Vaccinium oxycoccos


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