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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Nov 25;100(24):14080-5. Epub 2003 Nov 13.

Cell size as a link between noncoding DNA and metabolic rate scaling.

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  • 1Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 3, 30-387, Krakow, Poland.


Accumulation of noncoding DNA and therefore genome size (C-value) may be under strong selection toward increase of body size accompanied by low metabolic costs. C-value directly affects cell size and specific metabolic rate indirectly. Body size can enlarge through increase of cell size and/or cell number, with small cells having higher metabolic rates. We argue that scaling exponents of interspecific allometries of metabolic rates are by-products of evolutionary diversification of C-values within narrow taxonomic groups, which underlines the participation of cell size and cell number in body size optimization. This optimization leads to an inverse relation between slopes of interspecific allometries of metabolic rates and C-value. To test this prediction we extracted literature data on basal metabolic rate (BMR), body mass, and C-value of mammals and birds representing six and eight orders, respectively. Analysis of covariance revealed significant heterogeneity of the allometric slopes of BMR and C-value in both mammals and birds. As we predicted, the correlation between allometric exponents of BMR and C-value was negative and statistically significant among mammalian and avian orders.

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