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Comparison of three DNA fluorochromes for flow cytometric estimation of nuclear DNA content in plants


J. Doležel (corresponding author)


Flow cytometric estimation of nuclear DNA content was performed in six plant species employing three fluorochromes showing different DNA base preferences: propidium iodide (no base preference), 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI; AT preference), and mithramycin (GC preference). Nuclei isolated from human leukocytes were used as a primary reference standard. While nuclear DNA contents estimated using propidium iodide were in agreement with published data obtained using other techniques, the values obtained using fluorochromes showing base preference were significantly different. It was found that the differences were caused by the differences in overall AT/GC ratios, and by the species-specific differences in binding of these fluorochromes to DNA. It was concluded that nuclear DNA content estimations performed with fluorochromes showing base preference should be interpreted with caution even when AT/GC ratios of the reference and the sample are equal. The use of intercalting dyes (e.g. propidium iodide) is recommended for this purpose. On the other hand, comparison of the staining behaviour of intercalating dyes with that of dyes showing base preference may give additional information on chromatin structural differences and arrangement of molecule pairs in DNA.