To elucidate the evolutionary dynamics of rDNA site number in polyploid plants, we determined 5S and 18S-5.8S-26S rDNA sites for ten species of Sanguisorba (2n=14, 28, 56) and a single species of each of three outgroup genera, Agrimonia (2n=28), Rosa (2n=14), and Rubus (2n=14) by the fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) method. We also estimated phylogenetic relationships among these species using matK chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) sequences, and reconstructed the evolutionary history of rDNA site number based on the maximum parsimony method. The 2n=14 and 2n=28 plants of all genera except Rosa carried two 5S rDNA sites, whereas Rosa and 2n=56 plants carried four sites. The 2n=14 plants had two 18S-5.8S-26S rDNA sites, whereas Sanguisorba annua and 2n=28 plants had four or six sites. Phylogenetic analysis showed that polyploidization from 2n=14 to 2n=28 has occurred once or three times in Sanguisorba and Agrimonia. The 5S rDNA sites duplicated during each ancestral polyploidization were evidently lost after each polyploidization. However, the duplicated 18S-5.8S-26S rDNA sites were all conserved after each polyploidization. Thus, the duplicated 5S rDNA sites tend to have been eliminated, whereas those of 18S-5.8S-26S rDNA tend to have been conserved in Sanguisorba. In the most parsimonious hypothesis, 2n=14 in S. annua is a secondary, putatively dysploid state, reduced from 2n=28.
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