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Journal of Botany
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 862516, 18 pages
Review Article

Genome Size Dynamics and Evolution in Monocots

1Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AD, UK
2Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA
3School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, E1 4NS, UK

Received 7 January 2010; Accepted 8 March 2010

Academic Editor: Johann Greilhuber

Copyright © 2010 Ilia J. Leitch et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Monocot genomic diversity includes striking variation at many levels. This paper compares various genomic characters (e.g., range of chromosome numbers and ploidy levels, occurrence of endopolyploidy, GC content, chromosome packaging and organization, genome size) between monocots and the remaining angiosperms to discern just how distinctive monocot genomes are. One of the most notable features of monocots is their wide range and diversity of genome sizes, including the species with the largest genome so far reported in plants. This genomic character is analysed in greater detail, within a phylogenetic context. By surveying available genome size and chromosome data it is apparent that different monocot orders follow distinctive modes of genome size and chromosome evolution. Further insights into genome size-evolution and dynamics were obtained using statistical modelling approaches to reconstruct the ancestral genome size at key nodes across the monocot phylogenetic tree. Such approaches reveal that while the ancestral genome size of all monocots was small ( 1 C = 1 . 9  pg), there have been several major increases and decreases during monocot evolution. In addition, notable increases in the rates of genome size-evolution were found in Asparagales and Poales compared with other monocot lineages.