The contrasting effects of genome size, chromosome number and ploidy level on plant invasiveness: a global analysis

Authors

  • Maharaj K. Pandit,

    1. Department of Environmental Studies, Centre for Inter-disciplinary Studies of Mountain & Hill Environment, University of Delhi, Delhi, India
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  • Steven M. White,

    1. Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK
    2. Wolfson Centre for Mathematical Biology, Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK
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  • Michael J. O. Pocock

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK
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Summary

  • Understanding how species' traits relate to their status (e.g. invasiveness or rarity) is important because it can help to efficiently focus conservation and management effort and infer mechanisms affecting plant status. This is particularly important for invasiveness, in which proactive action is needed to restrict the establishment of potentially invasive plants.
  • We tested the ability of genome size (DNA 1C-values) to explain invasiveness and compared it with cytogenetic traits (chromosome number and ploidy level). We considered 890 species from 62 genera, from across the angiosperm phylogeny and distributed from tropical to boreal latitudes.
  • We show that invasiveness was negatively related to genome size and positively related to chromosome number (and ploidy level), yet there was a positive relationship between genome size and chromosome number; that is, our result was not caused by collinearity between the traits. Including both traits in explanatory models greatly increased the explanatory power of each.
  • This demonstrates the potential unifying role that genome size, chromosome number and ploidy have as species' traits, despite the diverse impacts they have on plant physiology. It provides support for the continued cataloguing of cytogenetic traits and genome size of the world's flora.

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