Journal Article

Intrapopulation Genome Size Dynamics in <i>Festuca pallens</i>

Petr Šmarda, Petr Bureš, Lucie Horová and Olga Rotreklová

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 4, pages 599-607
Published in print October 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online August 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Intrapopulation Genome Size Dynamics in Festuca pallens

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

It is well known that genome size differs among species. However, information on the variation and dynamics of genome size in wild populations and on the early phase of genome size divergence between taxa is currently lacking. Genome size dynamics, heritability and phenotype effects are analysed here in a wild population of Festuca pallens (Poaceae).


Genome size was measured using flow cytometry with DAPI dye in 562 seedlings from 17 maternal plants varying in genome size. The repeatability of genome size measurements was verified at different seasons through the use of different standards and with propidium iodide dye; the range of variation observed was tested via analysis of double-peaks. Additionally, chromosome counts were made in selected seedlings.

Key Results and Conclusions

Analysis of double-peaks showed that genome size varied up to 1·188-fold within all 562 seedlings, 1·119-fold within the progeny of a single maternal plant and 1·117-fold in seedlings from grains of a single inflorescence. Generally, genome sizes of seedlings and their mothers were highly correlated. However, in maternal plants with both larger and smaller genomes, genome sizes of seedlings were shifted towards the population median. This was probably due to the frequency of available paternal genomes (pollen grains) in the population. There was a stabilizing selection on genome size during the development of seedlings into adults, which may be important for stabilizing genome size within species. Furthermore, a positive correlation was found between genome size and the development rate of seedlings. A larger genome may therefore provide a competitive advantage, perhaps explaining the higher proportion of plants with larger genomes in the population studied. The reason for the observed variation may be the recent induction of genome size variation, e.g. by activity of retrotransposons, which may be preserved in the long term by the segregation of homeologous chromosomes of different sizes during gametogenesis.

Keywords: Nuclear DNA content; intraspecific variation; genome size evolution; heritability; stabilizing selection; grasses; flow cytometry

Journal Article.  4433 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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