Many previous studies have provided evidence for genome changes in polyploids, but there are little data on the overall population dynamics of genome change and whether it causes phenotypic variability. We analyzed genetic, epigenetic, gene expression, and phenotypic changes in approximately 50 resynthesized Brassica napus lines independently derived by hybridizing double haploids of Brassica oleracea and Brassica rapa. A previous analysis of the first generation (S0) found that genetic changes were rare, and cytosine methylation changes were frequent. Our analysis of a later generation found that most S0 methylation changes remained fixed in their S5 progeny, although there were some reversions and new methylation changes. Genetic changes were much more frequent in the S5 generation, occurring in every line with lines normally distributed for number of changes. Genetic changes were detected on 36 of the 38 chromosomes of the S5 allopolyploids and were not random across the genome. DNA fragment losses within lines often occurred at linked marker loci, and most fragment losses co-occurred with intensification of signal from homoeologous markers, indicating that the changes were due to homoeologous nonreciprocal transpositions (HNRTs). HNRTs between chromosomes A1 and C1 initiated in early generations, occurred in successive generations, and segregated, consistent with a recombination mechanism. HNRTs and deletions were correlated with qualitative changes in the expression of specific homoeologous genes and anonymous cDNA amplified fragment length polymorphisms and with phenotypic variation among S5 polyploids. Our data indicate that exchanges among homoeologous chromosomes are a major mechanism creating novel allele combinations and phenotypic variation in newly formed B. napus polyploids.
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