Shift and adapt: the costs and benefits of karyotype variations
Variation is the spice of life or, in the case of evolution, variation is the necessary material on which selection can act to enable adaptation. Karyotypic variation in ploidy (the number of homologous chromosome sets) and aneuploidy (imbalance in the number of chromosomes) are fundamentally different than other types of genomic variants. Karyotypic variation emerges through different molecular mechanisms than other mutational events, and unlike mutations that alter the genome at the base pair level, rapid reversion to the wild type chromosome number is often possible. Although karyotypic variation has long been noted and discussed by biologists, interest in the importance of karyotypic variants in evolutionary processes has spiked in recent years, and much remains to be discovered about how karyotypic variants are produced and subsequently selected.