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Genome. 2007 Nov;50(11):1029-37.

Genome size and genome evolution in diploid Triticeae species.

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  • 1Institute for Cereal Crops Improvement, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


One of the intriguing issues concerning the dynamics of plant genomes is the occurrence of intraspecific variation in nuclear DNA amount. The aim of this work was to assess the ranges of intraspecific, interspecific, and intergeneric variation in nuclear DNA content of diploid species of the tribe Triticeae (Poaceae) and to examine the relation between life form or habitat and genome size. Altogether, 438 plants representing 272 lines that belong to 22 species were analyzed. Nuclear DNA content was estimated by flow cytometry. Very small intraspecific variation in DNA amount was found between lines of Triticeae diploid species collected from different habitats or between different morphs. In contrast to the constancy in nuclear DNA amount at the intraspecific level, there are significant differences in genome size between the various diploid species. Within the genus Aegilops, the 1C DNA amount ranged from 4.84 pg in A. caudata to 7.52 pg in A. sharonensis; among genera, the 1C DNA amount ranged from 4.18 pg in Heteranthelium piliferum to 9.45 pg in Secale montanum. No evidence was found for a smaller genome size in annual, self-pollinating species relative to perennial, cross-pollinating ones. Diploids that grow in the southern part of the group's distribution have larger genomes than those growing in other parts of the distribution. The contrast between the low variation at the intraspecific level and the high variation at the interspecific one suggests that changes in genome size originated in close temporal proximity to the speciation event, i.e., before, during, or immediately after it. The possible effects of sudden changes in genome size on speciation processes are discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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