Despite remarkable advances in genomic studies over the past few decades, surprisingly little is known about the processes governing genome evolution at macroevolutionary timescales. In a seminal paper, Hinegardner and Rosen (Am Nat 106:621-644, 1972) suggested that taxa characterized by larger genomes should also display disproportionately stronger fluctuations in genome size. Therefore, according to the Hinegardner and Rosen (HR) hypothesis, there should be a negative correlation between average within-family genome size and its corresponding coefficient of variation (CV), a prediction that was supported by their analysis of the genomes of 275 species of fish. In this study we reevaluate the HR hypothesis using an expanded dataset (2050 genome size records). Moreover, in addition to the use of standard linear regression techniques, we also conducted modern comparative analyses that take into account phylogenetic non-independence. Our analyses failed to confirm the negative relationship detected in the original study, suggesting that the evolution of genome size in fishes might be more complex than envisioned by the HR hypothesis. Interestingly, the frequency distribution of fish genome sizes was strongly skewed, even on a logarithmic scale, suggesting that the dynamics underlying genome size evolution are driven by multiplicative phenomena, which might include chromosomal rearrangements and the expansion of transposable elements.
- DNA loss
- Genome duplication
- Genome evolution
- Genome size independent contrasts