DOI: 10.1111/nph.19544 ISSN: 0028-646X

The global distribution of angiosperm genome size is shaped by climate

Petr Bureš, Tammy L. Elliott, Pavel Veselý, Petr Šmarda, Félix Forest, Ilia J. Leitch, Eimear Nic Lughadha, Marybel Soto Gomez, Samuel Pironon, Matilda J. M. Brown, Jakub Šmerda, František Zedek
  • Plant Science
  • Physiology


Angiosperms, which inhabit diverse environments across all continents, exhibit significant variation in genome sizes, making them an excellent model system for examining hypotheses about the global distribution of genome size. These include the previously proposed large genome constraint, mutational hazard, polyploidy‐mediated, and climate‐mediated hypotheses.

We compiled the largest genome size dataset to date, encompassing 16 017 (> 5% of known) angiosperm species, and analyzed genome size distribution using a comprehensive geographic distribution dataset for all angiosperms.

We observed that angiosperms with large range sizes generally had small genomes, supporting the large genome constraint hypothesis. Climate was shown to exert a strong influence on genome size distribution along the global latitudinal gradient, while the frequency of polyploidy and the type of growth form had negligible effects. In contrast to the unimodal patterns along the global latitudinal gradient shown by plant size traits and polyploid proportions, the increase in angiosperm genome size from the equator to 40–50°N/S is probably mediated by different (mostly climatic) mechanisms than the decrease in genome sizes observed from 40 to 50°N northward.

Our analysis suggests that the global distribution of genome sizes in angiosperms is mainly shaped by climatically mediated purifying selection, genetic drift, relaxed selection, and environmental filtering.

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