Derived characters that have not changed during the diversification of a clade provide traits that are diagnostic at higher taxonomic levels. The tetradynamous stamen condition (four long and two short stamens) of the Brassicaceae is an example of a diagnostic trait that has not changed during the diversification of this large flowering plant family. We investigated one hypothesis that might explain the long-term stasis of this trait—that tetradynamous stamens have persisted because of an absence of genetic variation underlying the trait. Through a sib-analysis with Raphanus raphanistrum and an artificial selection experiment with Brassica rapa, we demonstrate that significant genetic variation is present for the tetradynamous condition in both species and that the trait is therefore not constrained from evolutionary change by a lack of heritable genetic variation.
Corresponding Editor: M. Dudash