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New Phytol. 2015 Jan;205(2):608-17. doi: 10.1111/nph.13076. Epub 2014 Sep 30.

Environmental adaptation in stomatal size independent of the effects of genome size.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart, Tasmania, 7001, Australia.


Cell sizes are linked across multiple tissues, including stomata, and this variation is closely correlated with genome size. These associations raise the question of whether generic changes in cell size cause suboptimal changes in stomata, requiring subsequent evolution under selection for stomatal size. We tested the relationships among guard cell length, genome size and vegetation type using phylogenetically independent analyses on 67 species of the ecologically and structurally diverse family, Proteaceae. We also compared how genome and stomatal sizes varied at ancient (among genera) and more recent (within genus) levels. The observed 60-fold range in genome size in Proteaceae largely reflected the mean chromosome size. Compared with variation among genera, genome size varied much less within genera (< 6% of total variance) than stomatal size, implying evolution in stomatal size subsequent to changes in genome size. Open vegetation and closed forest had significantly different relationships between stomatal and genome sizes. Ancient changes in genome size clearly influenced stomatal size in Proteaceae, but adaptation to habitat strongly modified the genome-stomatal size relationship. Direct adaptation to the environment in stomatal size argues that new proxies for past concentrations of atmospheric CO2 that incorporate stomatal size are superior to older models based solely on stomatal frequency.


CO 2; Proteaceae; adaptation; cell size; chromosome size; genome size; palaeoproxy; stomata

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