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Ann Bot. 2009 Aug;104(3):469-81. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcp003. Epub 2009 Jan 24.

Genome size diversity in orchids: consequences and evolution.

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1
Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, UK. i.leitch@kew.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The amount of DNA comprising the genome of an organism (its genome size) varies a remarkable 40 000-fold across eukaryotes, yet most groups are characterized by much narrower ranges (e.g. 14-fold in gymnosperms, 3- to 4-fold in mammals). Angiosperms stand out as one of the most variable groups with genome sizes varying nearly 2000-fold. Nevertheless within angiosperms the majority of families are characterized by genomes which are small and vary little. Species with large genomes are mostly restricted to a few monocots families including Orchidaceae.

SCOPE:

A survey of the literature revealed that genome size data for Orchidaceae are comparatively rare representing just 327 species. Nevertheless they reveal that Orchidaceae are currently the most variable angiosperm family with genome sizes ranging 168-fold (1C = 0.33-55.4 pg). Analysing the data provided insights into the distribution, evolution and possible consequences to the plant of this genome size diversity.

CONCLUSIONS:

Superimposing the data onto the increasingly robust phylogenetic tree of Orchidaceae revealed how different subfamilies were characterized by distinct genome size profiles. Epidendroideae possessed the greatest range of genome sizes, although the majority of species had small genomes. In contrast, the largest genomes were found in subfamilies Cypripedioideae and Vanilloideae. Genome size evolution within this subfamily was analysed as this is the only one with reasonable representation of data. This approach highlighted striking differences in genome size and karyotype evolution between the closely related Cypripedium, Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium. As to the consequences of genome size diversity, various studies revealed that this has both practical (e.g. application of genetic fingerprinting techniques) and biological consequences (e.g. affecting where and when an orchid may grow) and emphasizes the importance of obtaining further genome size data given the considerable phylogenetic gaps which have been highlighted by the current study.

PMID:
19168860
PMCID:
PMC2720655
DOI:
10.1093/aob/mcp003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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