Previous attempts to explore the significance of variation in genome size have involved comparisons with respect to life history1–4, taxonomic and evolutionary affiliations5–9 and geographical distribution10,11. Here we examine variation in the British flora. Large genomes are particularly associated with Mediterranean geophytes and grasses in which growth is confined to the cool conditions of winter and early spring. We suggest that large genomes have evolved under circumstances in which growth is limited by the effect of low temperature on rates of cell division and are part of a mechanism whereby growth at low temperature is achieved by rapid inflation of large cells formed during a preceding warm dry season. Where moisture supply allows growth to occur in the summer, temporal separation of mitosis and cell expansion confers no advantage and the longer mitotic cycle of large cells is likely to restrict rates of development; here the effect of natural selection has been to reduce cell and genome size.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.83 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Bennett, M. D. Proc. R. Soc. B181, 109–135 (1972).
Bennett, M. D. & Smith, J. P. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B274, 227–274 (1976).
Cavalier-Smith, T. J. Cell Sci. 34, 247–278 (1978).
Cavalier-Smith, T. Bio Systems 12, 43–59 (1980).
Rothfels, K., Sexsmith, E., Heimburger, M. & Krause, M. O. Chromosoma 20, 54–74 (1966).
Chooi, W. Y. Genetics 68, 195–211 (1971).
Smith, J. P. & Bennett, M. D. Heredity 35, 231–239 (1975).
Price, H. J. Bot. Rev. 42, 27–52 (1976).
Jones, R. N. & Brown, L. M. Heredity 36, 91–104 (1976).
Bennett, M. D. Envir. exp. Bot. 16, 93–108 (1976).
Levin, D. A. & Funderburg, S. W. Am. Nat. 114, 784–795 (1979).
Perring, R. H. & Walters, S. M. Atlas of the British Flora (Nelson, Edinburgh, 1962).
Al-Mufti, M. M., Sydes, C. L., Furness, S. B., Grime, J. P. & Band, S. B. J. Ecol. 65, 759–791 (1977).
Billings, W. D. & Mooney, H. A. Biol. Rev. 43, 481–529 (1968).
Wein, R. W. & Maclean, D. A. Can. J. Bot. 51, 2509–2513 (1973).
Al-Mashhadani, Y. D. thesis, Univ. Sheffield (1979).
Furness, S. B. thesis, Univ. Sheffield (1980).
Haber, A. H. & Luippold, H. J. Pl. Physiol. 35, 168–173 (1960).
Bradley, M. V. Am. J. Bot. 41, 398–402 (1954).
Van't Hof, J. & Sparrow, A. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 49, 897–902 (1963).
Commoner, B. Nature 202, 960–968 (1964).
Darlington, C. D. Cytology (Churchill, London, 1965).
Bennett, M. D. Proc. R. Soc. B178, 277–299 (1971).
Finnegan, D. J., Rubin, G. M., Young, M. W. & Hogness, D. S. Cold Spring Harb. Symp. quant. Biol. 42, 1053–1063 (1977).
Long, E. O. & Dawid, I. B. A. Rev. Biochem. 49, 727–764 (1980).
Avdulov, J. P. Trudȳ prikl. Bot. Genet. Selek. 44, Suppl. 4, 1–428 (1931).
Hartsema, A. M. Handb. PflPhysiol. 16, 123–167 (1961).
Britten, R. J. & Davidson, E. H. Q. Rev. Biol. 46, 111–133 (1971).
About this article
Cite this article
Grime, J., Mowforth, M. Variation in genome size—an ecological interpretation. Nature 299, 151–153 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1038/299151a0
Facultative Transitions Have Trouble Committing, But Stable Life Cycles Predict Salamander Genome Size Evolution
Evolutionary Biology (2020)
Ecology and Evolution (2020)
Patterns of chromosomal variation in Mexican species of Aeschynomene (Fabaceae, Papilionoideae) and their evolutionary and taxonomic implications
Comparative Cytogenetics (2020)
Plant Systematics and Evolution (2020)
New Phytologist (2020)