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Ann Bot. 2005 Jan;95(1):45-90.

Nuclear DNA amounts in angiosperms: progress, problems and prospects.

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  • 1Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, UK. m.bennett@kew.org



The nuclear DNA amount in an unreplicated haploid chromosome complement (1C-value) is a key diversity character with many uses. Angiosperm C-values have been listed for reference purposes since 1976, and pooled in an electronic database since 1997 (http://www.kew.org/cval/homepage). Such lists are cited frequently and provide data for many comparative studies. The last compilation was published in 2000, so a further supplementary list is timely to monitor progress against targets set at the first plant genome size workshop in 1997 and to facilitate new goal setting.


The present work lists DNA C-values for 804 species including first values for 628 species from 88 original sources, not included in any previous compilation, plus additional values for 176 species included in a previous compilation.


1998-2002 saw striking progress in our knowledge of angiosperm C-values. At least 1700 first values for species were measured (the most in any five-year period) and familial representation rose from 30 % to 50 %. The loss of many densitometers used to measure DNA C-values proved less serious than feared, owing to the development of relatively inexpensive flow cytometers and computer-based image analysis systems. New uses of the term genome (e.g. in 'complete' genome sequencing) can cause confusion. The Arabidopsis Genome Initiative C-value for Arabidopsis thaliana (125 Mb) was a gross underestimate, and an exact C-value based on genome sequencing alone is unlikely to be obtained soon for any angiosperm. Lack of this expected benchmark poses a quandary as to what to use as the basal calibration standard for angiosperms. The next decade offers exciting prospects for angiosperm genome size research. The database (http://www.kew.org/cval/homepage) should become sufficiently representative of the global flora to answer most questions without needing new estimations. DNA amount variation will remain a key interest as an integrated strand of holistic genomics.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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