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Phylogenetic trends and environmental correlates of nuclear genome size variation in Helianthus sunflowers

Qiu, Fan, Baack, Eric J., Whitney, Kenneth D., Bock, Dan G., Tetreault, Hannah M., Rieseberg, Loren H., Ungerer, Mark C.
Thenew phytologist 2019 v.221 no.3 pp. 1609-1618
Helianthus annuus, databases, diploidy, flow cytometry, growing season, habitats, indigenous species, models, nuclear genome, phenotype, phylogeny, temperature, North America
Flowering plants serve as a powerful model for studying the evolution of nuclear genome size (GS) given the tremendous GS variation that exists both within and across angiosperm lineages. Helianthus sunflowers consist of c. 50 species native to North America that occupy diverse habitats and vary in ploidy level. In the current study, we generated a comprehensive GS database for 49 Helianthus species using flow cytometric approaches. We examined variability across the genus and present a comparative phylogenetic analysis of GS evolution in diploid Helianthus species. Results demonstrated that different clades of diploid Helianthus species showed evolutionary patterns of GS contraction, expansion and relative stasis, with annual diploid species evolving smaller GS with the highest rate of evolution. Phylogenetic comparative analyses of diploids revealed significant negative associations of GS with temperature seasonality and cell production rate, indicating that the evolution of larger GS in Helianthus diploids may be more permissible in habitats with longer growing seasons where selection for more rapid growth may be relaxed. The Helianthus GS database presented here and corresponding analyses of environmental and phenotypic correlates will facilitate ongoing and future research on the ultimate drivers of GS evolution in this well‐studied North American plant genus.