Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Richmond TW8 3DSSurrey UK

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Richmond TW8 3DSSurrey UK

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Clark J.,Natural History Museum in London | Hidalgo O.,Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Richmond TW8 3DSSurrey UK | Pellicer J.,Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Richmond TW8 3DSSurrey UK | Liu H.,Chinese Academy of Sciences | And 5 more authors.
New Phytologist | Year: 2016

The genome evolution of ferns has been considered to be relatively static compared with angiosperms. In this study, we analyse genome size data and chromosome numbers in a phylogenetic framework to explore three hypotheses: the correlation of genome size and chromosome number, the origin of modern ferns from ancestors with high chromosome numbers, and the occurrence of several whole-genome duplications during the evolution of ferns. To achieve this, we generated new genome size data, increasing the percentage of fern species with genome sizes estimated to 2.8% of extant diversity, and ensuring a comprehensive phylogenetic coverage including at least three species from each fern order. Genome size was correlated with chromosome number across all ferns despite some substantial variation in both traits. We observed a trend towards conservation of the amount of DNA per chromosome, although Osmundaceae and Psilotaceae have substantially larger chromosomes. Reconstruction of the ancestral genome traits suggested that the earliest ferns were already characterized by possessing high chromosome numbers and that the earliest divergences in ferns were correlated with substantial karyological changes. Evidence for repeated whole-genome duplications was found across the phylogeny. Fern genomes tend to evolve slowly, albeit genome rearrangements occur in some clades. © 2016 New Phytologist Trust.

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