Allopolyploidy is acknowledged as an important force in plant evolution. Frequent allopolyploidy in Nicotiana across different timescales permits the evaluation of genome restructuring and repeat dynamics through time. Here we use a clustering approach on high-throughput sequence reads to identify the main classes of repetitive elements following three allotetraploid events, and how these are inherited from the closest extant relatives of the maternal and paternal subgenome donors. In all three cases, there was a lack of clear maternal, cytoplasmic bias in repeat evolution, i.e., lack of a predicted bias towards maternal subgenome-derived repeats, with roughly equal contributions from both parental subgenomes. Different overall repeat dynamics were found across timescales of <0.5 (N. rustica L.), 4 (N. repanda Willd.) and 6 (N. benthamiana Domin) Ma, with nearly additive, genome upsizing, and genome downsizing, respectively. Lower copy repeats were inherited in similar abundance to the parental subgenomes, whereas higher copy repeats contributed the most to genome size change in N. repanda and N. benthamiana. Genome downsizing post-polyploidisation may be a general long-term trend across angiosperms, but at more recent timescales there is species-specific variance as found in Nicotiana.
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