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1.  Genome size diversity in orchids: consequences and evolution 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(3):469-481.
The amount of DNA comprising the genome of an organism (its genome size) varies a remarkable 40 000-fold across eukaryotes, yet most groups are characterized by much narrower ranges (e.g. 14-fold in gymnosperms, 3- to 4-fold in mammals). Angiosperms stand out as one of the most variable groups with genome sizes varying nearly 2000-fold. Nevertheless within angiosperms the majority of families are characterized by genomes which are small and vary little. Species with large genomes are mostly restricted to a few monocots families including Orchidaceae.
A survey of the literature revealed that genome size data for Orchidaceae are comparatively rare representing just 327 species. Nevertheless they reveal that Orchidaceae are currently the most variable angiosperm family with genome sizes ranging 168-fold (1C = 0·33–55·4 pg). Analysing the data provided insights into the distribution, evolution and possible consequences to the plant of this genome size diversity.
Superimposing the data onto the increasingly robust phylogenetic tree of Orchidaceae revealed how different subfamilies were characterized by distinct genome size profiles. Epidendroideae possessed the greatest range of genome sizes, although the majority of species had small genomes. In contrast, the largest genomes were found in subfamilies Cypripedioideae and Vanilloideae. Genome size evolution within this subfamily was analysed as this is the only one with reasonable representation of data. This approach highlighted striking differences in genome size and karyotype evolution between the closely related Cypripedium, Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium. As to the consequences of genome size diversity, various studies revealed that this has both practical (e.g. application of genetic fingerprinting techniques) and biological consequences (e.g. affecting where and when an orchid may grow) and emphasizes the importance of obtaining further genome size data given the considerable phylogenetic gaps which have been highlighted by the current study.
PMCID: PMC2720655  PMID: 19168860
AFLP; C-value; chromosome; evolution; genome size; guard cell size; Orchidaceae; Robertsonian fission; Robertsonian fusion
2.  Molecular systematics of Gagea and Lloydia (Liliaceae; Liliales): implications of analyses of nuclear ribosomal and plastid DNA sequences for infrageneric classification 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(1):125-142.
Background and Aims
Gagea is a Eurasian genus of petaloid monocots, with a few species in North Africa, comprising between 70 and approximately 275 species depending on the author. Lloydia (thought to be the closest relative of Gagea) consists of 12–20 species that have a mostly eastern Asian distribution. Delimitation of these genera and their subdivisions are unresolved questions in Liliaceae taxonomy. The objective of this study is to evaluate generic and infrageneric circumscription of Gagea and Lloydia using DNA sequence data.
A phylogenetic study of Gagea and Lloydia (Liliaceae) was conducted using sequences of nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and plastid (rpl16 intron, trnL intron, trnL-F spacer, matK and the psbA-trnH spacer) DNA regions. This included 149 accessions (seven as outgroups), with multiple accessions of some taxa; 552 sequences were included, of which 393 were generated as part of this research.
Key Results
A close relationship of Gagea and Lloydia was confirmed in analyses using different datasets, but neither Gagea nor Lloydia forms a monophyletic group as currently circumscribed; however, the ITS and plastid analyses did not produce congruent results for the placement of Lloydia relative to the major groups within Gagea. Gagea accessions formed five moderately to strongly supported clades in all trees, with most Lloydia taxa positioned at the basal nodes; in the strict consensus trees from the combined data a basal polytomy occurs. There is limited congruence between the classical, morphology-derived infrageneric taxonomy in Gagea (including Lloydia) and clades in the present phylogenetic analyses.
The analyses support monophyly of Gagea/Lloydia collectively, and they clearly comprise a single lineage, as some previous authors have hypothesized. The results provide the basis for a new classification of Gagea that has support from some morphological features. Incongruence between plastid and nuclear ITS results is interpreted as potentially due to ancient hybridization and/or paralogy of ITS rDNA.
PMCID: PMC2706717  PMID: 19451146
Gagea; Lloydia; Liliaceae; ITS ribosomal DNA sequences; plastid DNA sequences
3.  Plant Genome Horizons: Michael Bennett's Contribution to Genome Research 
Annals of Botany  2008;101(6):737-746.
PMCID: PMC2710207  PMID: 18411257
4.  A Preliminary Study of Genetic Variation in Populations of Monstera adansonii var. klotzschiana (Araceae) from North-East Brazil, Estimated with AFLP Molecular Markers 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(6):1143-1154.
Background and Aims
This study sought genetic evidence of long-term isolation in populations of Monstera adansonii var. klotzschiana (Araceae), a herbaceous, probably outbreeding, humid forest hemi-epiphyte, in the brejo forests of Ceará (north-east Brazil), and clarification of their relationships with populations in Amazonia and the Atlantic forest of Brazil.
Within-population genetic diversity and between-population dissimilarity were estimated using AFLP molecular markers in 75 individuals from eight populations located in Ceará, the Brazilian Atlantic Forest and Amazonia.
Key Results
The populations showed a clinal pattern of weak genetic differentiation over a large geographical region (FST = 0·1896). A strong correlation between genetic and geographical distance (Mantel test: r = 0·6903, P = 0·002) suggests a historical pattern of isolation by distance. Genetic structure analysis revealed at least two distinct gene pools in the data. The two isolated Ceará populations are significantly different from each other (pairwise ΦPT = 0·137, P = 0·003) and as diverse (Nei's gene diversity, average He = 0·1832, 0·1706) as those in the Atlantic and Amazon forest regions. The population in southern Brazil is less diverse (Nei's gene diversity, average He = 0·127) than the rest. The Ceará populations are related to those of the Atlantic forest rather than those from Amazonia (AMOVA, among-groups variation = 11·95 %, P = 0·037).
The gene pools detected within an overall pattern of clinal variation suggest distinct episodes of gene flow, possibly correlated with past humid forest expansions. The Ceará populations show no evidence of erosion of genetic diversity, although this was expected because of their isolation. Their genetic differentiation and relatively high diversity reinforce the importance of conserving the endangered brejo forests.
PMCID: PMC2759243  PMID: 17823112
AFLP; Amazonia; Araceae; Atlantic forest; brejo forest; French Guiana; Monstera adansonii var. klotzschiana; north-east Brazil; population genetic variation

Results 1-4 (4)