Plant Biol (Stuttg) 2005; 7(5): 449-458
DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-865878
Review Article

Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart KG · New York

Climate and Growth Form: The Consequences for Genome Size in Plants

D. Ohri1
  • 1Division of Genetics and Plant Breeding, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow-226001, U.P., India
Further Information

Publication History

Received: February 14, 2005

Accepted: May 25, 2005

Publication Date:
15 September 2005 (online)


The adaptive significance of nuclear DNA variation in angiosperms is still widely debated. The discussion mainly revolves round the causative factors influencing genome size and the adaptive consequences to an organism according to its growth form and environmental conditions. Nuclear DNA values are now known for 3874 angiosperm species (including 773 woody species) from over 219 families (out of a total of 500) and 181 species of woody gymnosperms, representing all the families. Therefore, comparisons have been made on not only angiosperms, taken as a whole, but also on the subsets of data based on taxonomic groups, growth forms, and environment. Nuclear DNA amounts in woody angiosperms are restricted to less than 23.54 % of the total range of herbaceous angiosperms; this range is further reduced to 6.8 % when woody and herbaceous species of temperate angiosperms are compared. Similarly, the tropical woody dicots are restricted to less than 50.5 % of the total range of tropical herbaceous dicots, while temperate woody dicots are restricted to less than 10.96 % of the total range of temperate herbaceous dicots. In the family Fabaceae woody species account for less than 14.1 % of herbaceous species. Therefore, in the total angiosperm sample and in subsets of data, woody growth form is characterized by a smaller genome size compared with the herbaceous growth form. Comparisons between angiosperm species growing in tropical and temperate regions show highly significant differences in DNA amount and genome size in the total angiosperm sample. However, when only herbaceous angiosperms were considered, significant differences were obtained in DNA amount, while genome size showed a non-significant difference. An atypical result was obtained in the case of woody angiosperms where mean DNA amount of tropical species was almost 25.04 % higher than that of temperate species, which is because of the inclusion of 85 species of woody monocots in the tropical sample. The difference becomes insignificant when genome size is compared. Comparison of tropical and temperate species among dicots and monocots and herbaceous monocots taken separately showed significant differences both in DNA amount and genome size. In herbaceous dicots, while DNA amount showed significant differences the genome size varies insignificantly. There was a non-significant difference among tropical and temperate woody dicots. In three families, i.e., Poaceae, Asteraceae, and Fabaceae the temperate species have significantly higher DNA amount and genome size than the tropical ones. Woody gymnosperms had significantly more DNA amount and genome size than woody angiosperms, woody eudicots, and woody monocots. Woody monocots also had significantly more DNA amount and genome size than woody eudicots. Lastly, there was no significant difference between deciduous and evergreen hardwoods. The significance of these results in relation to present knowledge on the evolution of genome size is discussed.


D. Ohri

Division of Genetics and Plant Breeding
National Botanical Research Institute

Lucknow-226001, U.P.



Editor: F. Salamini