Lack of correlation between AT frequency and genome size in higher plants and the effect of nonrandomness of base sequences on dye binding




Different plant species vary as to the ratio of nucleotide base pairs of genomic DNA. A correlation between genome size and base pair ratio has been claimed. Base composition can be analyzed by base-specific dyes.


Genome size is determined by flow cytometry of suspensions of nuclei stained by the base independent dye, PI. For estimation of the AT frequency, the AT-specific dyes 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole, dihydrochloride (DAPI) and Hoechst 33342 (HO) were used. We define a dye factor (DF) as the ratio of the two estimates (peak ratios) of nuclear fluorescence intensities of sample relative to reference plant nuclei using a given dye and an intercalating fluorochrome.


No significant correlation between genome size and the DF for DAPI was found when 54 plant species were investigated. However, similarities within and differences among the plant families were shown. The comparison of DAPI and HO DFs gave no consistent differences as would be predicted from the model of different binding site length of dyes. This result may be explained by the nonrandom distribution of base pairs.


There is no general correlation between genome size and AT/GC ratio in higher plants. Similar AT/GC ratios within a plant family result from the general similarity of the DNA sequences within a family. The fluorescence of base-specific dyes is influenced by the nonrandom distribution of bases in the DNA molecule. Cytometry 47:1–7, 2002. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.