BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Genome size is known to affect various plant traits such as stomatal size, seed mass, and flower or shoot phenology. However, these associations are not well understood for species with very large genomes, which are laregly represented by geophytic plants. No detailed associations are known between DNA base composition and genome size or species ecology. METHODS: Genome sizes and GC contents were measured in 219 geophytes together with tentative morpho-anatomical and ecological traits. KEY RESULTS: Increased genome size was associated with earliness of flowering and tendency to grow in humid conditions, and there was a positive correlation between an increase in stomatal size in species with extremely large genomes. Seed mass of geophytes was closely related to their ecology, but not to genomic parameters. Genomic DNA GC content showed a unimodal relationship with genome size but no relationship with species ecology. CONCLUSIONS: Evolution of genome size in geophytes is closely related to their ecology and phenology and is also associated with remarkable changes in DNA base composition. Although geophytism together with producing larger cells appears to be an advantageous strategy for fast development of an organism in seasonal habitats, the drought sensitivity of large stomata may restrict the occurrence of geophytes with very large genomes to regions not subject to water stress.
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