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Plant diversification has been characterized by both allopolyploid speciation and by the evolution of diverse specialized metabolites, many of which function as anti-herbivore chemical defenses. It is likely that the novel genetic toolkit arising in allopolyploids has facilitated chemical defense evolution; however, this has rarely been documented empirically. Here we describe this phenomenon in the evolution of cyanogenesis (HCN release upon tissue damage) in white clover — a textbook example of a plant chemical defense that has been studied for more than a century. Integration of high-resolution genetic maps with genome sequence analyses reveals that each of white clover’s two diploid ancestors contributed one of the two chemical components that are required for this classic anti-herbivore defense.

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This page is a summary of: Dual‐species origin of an adaptive chemical defense polymorphism, New Phytologist, August 2021, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/nph.17654.
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