Molecular Biology and Evolution 38: 1695-1714.
Pervasive hybridization and whole genome duplications (WGDs) influenced genome evolution in several eukaryotic lineages. While frequent and recurrent hybridizations may result in reticulate phylogenies, the evolutionary events underlying these reticulations, including detailed structure of the ancestral diploid and polyploid genomes, were only rarely reconstructed. Here, we elucidate the complex genomic history of a monophyletic clade from the mustard family (Brassicaceae), showing contentious relationships to the early-diverging clades of this model plant family. Genome evolution in the crucifer tribe Biscutelleae (c. 60 species, 5 genera) was dominated by pervasive hybridizations and subsequent genome duplications. Diversification of an ancestral diploid genome into several divergent but crossable genomes was followed by hybridizations between these genomes. Whereas a single genus (Megadenia) remained diploid, the four remaining genera originated by allopolyploidy (Biscutella, Lunaria, Ricotia) or autopolyploidy (Heldreichia). The contentious relationships among the Biscutelleae genera, and between the tribe and other early diverged crucifer lineages, are best explained by close genomic relatedness among the recurrently hybridizing ancestral genomes. By using complementary cytogenomics and phylogenomics approaches, we demonstrate that the origin of a monophyletic plant clade can be more complex than a parsimonious assumption of a single WGD spurring post-polyploid cladogenesis. Instead, recurrent hybridization among the same and/or closely related parental genomes may phylogenetically interlink diploid and polyploid genomes despite the incidence of multiple independent WGDs. Our results provide new insights into evolution of early-diverging Brassicaceae lineages and elucidate challenges in resolving the contentious relationships within and between land plant lineages with pervasive hybridization and WGDs.