Evaluating the role of genome downsizing and size thresholds from genome size distributions in angiosperms

Rosana Zenil-Ferguson, José M. Ponciano, J. Gordon Burleigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Whole-genome duplications (WGDs) can rapidly increase genome size in angiosperms. Yet their mean genome size is not correlated with ploidy. We compared three hypotheses to explain the constancy of genome size means across ploidies. The genome downsizing hypothesis suggests that genome size will decrease by a given percentage after a WGD. The genome size threshold hypothesis assumes that taxa with large genomes or large monoploid numbers will fail to undergo or survive WGDs. Finally, the genome downsizing and threshold hypothesis suggests that both genome downsizing and thresholds aff ect the relationship between genome size means and ploidy. M ETHODS: We performed nonparametric bootstrap simulations to compare observed angiosperm genome size means among species or genera against simulated genome sizes under the three diff erent hypotheses. We evaluated the hypotheses using a decision theory approach and estimated the expected percentage of genome downsizing. KEY RESULTS: The threshold hypothesis improves the approximations between mean genome size and simulated genome size. At the species level, the genome downsizing with thresholds hypothesis best explains the genome size means with a 15% genome downsizing percentage. In the genus level simulations, the monoploid number threshold hypothesis best explains the data. CONCLUSIONS: Thresholds of genome size and monoploid number added to genome downsizing at species level simulations explain the observed means of angiosperm genome sizes, and monoploid number is important for determining the genome size mean at the genus level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1175-1186
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of botany
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Botanical Society of America.


  • Genome downsizing
  • Large genome thresholds
  • Monoploid number
  • Polyploidy
  • Whole-genome duplications


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