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Smallest Angiosperm Genomes Found in Lentibulariaceae, with Chromosomes of Bacterial Size




Abstract: Nuclear holoploid genome sizes (C-values) have been estimated to vary about 800-fold in angiosperms, with the smallest established 1C-value of 157 Mbp recorded in Arabidopsis thaliana. In the highly specialized carnivorous family Lentibulariaceae now three taxa have been found that exhibit significantly lower values: Genlisea margaretae with 63 Mbp, G. aurea with 64 Mbp, and Utricularia gibba with 88 Mbp. The smallest mitotic anaphase chromatids in G. aurea have 2.1 Mbp and are thus of bacterial size (NB: E. coli has ca. 4 Mbp). Several Utricularia species range somewhat lower than A. thaliana or are similar in genome size. The highest 1C-value known from species of Lentibulariaceae was found in Genlisea hispidula with 1510 Mbp, and results in about 24-fold variation for Genlisea and the Lentibulariaceae. Taking into account these new measurements, genome size variation in angiosperms is now almost 2000-fold. Genlisea and Utricularia are plants with terminal positions in the phylogeny of the eudicots, so that the findings are relevant for the understanding of genome miniaturization. Moreover, the Genlisea-Utricularia clade exhibits one of the highest mutational rates in several genomic regions in angiosperms, what may be linked to specialized patterns of genome evolution. Ultrasmall genomes have not been found in Pinguicula, which is the sister group of the Genlisea-Utricularia clade, and which does not show accelerated mutational rates. C-values in Pinguicula varied only 1.7-fold from 487 to 829 Mbp.