The genus Boechera (Brassicaceae) is comprised of both sexual and apomictic species, permitting comparative analyses of meiotic disturbances and parthenogenesis. Hybridization, polyploidy and environmental adaptation that arose during the evolution of Boechera may serve as (epi)genetic regulators of apomictic initiation in this genus.
Rojek et al. focus on B. stricta, a primarily sexually reproducing species which is also characterized by apomictic individuals, thus implying variation from strictly sexual seed formation. They address this reproductive conundrum through molecular and cyto-embryological investigations of flower development. The results imply that B. stricta is a species with an underlying ability to initiate apomixis. The findings demonstrate that the existence of apomixes in an otherwise diploid sexual B. stricta may provide the genomic building blocks for establishing highly penetrant apomictic diploids and hybrid relatives.