Journal Article

Nuclear DNA amounts in angiosperms: targets, trends and tomorrow

M. D. Bennett and I. J. Leitch

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 107, issue 3, pages 467-590
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Nuclear DNA amounts in angiosperms: targets, trends and tomorrow

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


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Background and Aims

The amount of DNA in an unreplicated gametic chromosome complement is known as the C-value and is a key biodiversity character of fundamental significance with many practical and predictive uses. Since 1976, Bennett and colleagues have assembled eight compilations of angiosperm C-values for reference purposes and subsequently these have been pooled into the Angiosperm DNA C-values Database ( Since the last compilation was published in 2005, a large amount of data on angiosperm genome size has been published. It is therefore timely to bring these data together into a ninth compilation of DNA amounts.


The present work lists DNA C-values for 2221 species from 151 original sources (including first values for 1860 species not listed in previous compilations). Combining these data with those published previously shows that C-values are now available for 6287 angiosperm species.

Key Findings

Analysis of the dataset, which is by far the largest of the nine compilations published since 1976, shows that angiosperm C-values are now being generated at the highest rate since the first genome sizes were estimated in the 1950s. The compilation includes new record holders for the smallest (1C = 0·0648 pg in Genlisea margaretae) and largest (1C = 152·23 pg in Paris japonica) genome sizes so far reported, extending the range encountered in angiosperms to nearly 2400-fold. A review of progress in meeting targets set at the Plant Genome Size meetings shows that although representation for genera, geographical regions and some plant life forms (e.g. island floras and parasitic plants) has improved, progress to increase familial representation is still slow. In terms of technique it is now clear that flow cytometry is soon likely to become the only method available for plant genome size estimations. Fortunately, this has been accompanied by numerous careful studies to improve the quality of data generated using this technique (e.g. design of new buffers, increased awareness and understanding of problems caused by cytosolic inhibitors). It is also clear that although the speed of DNA sequencing continues to rise dramatically with the advent of next-generation and third-generation sequencing technologies, ‘complete genome sequencing’ projects are still unable to generate accurate plant genome size estimates.

Keywords: DNA C-value; nuclear genome size; Plant DNA C-values Database; flow cytometry

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

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