Patterns of Genome Size in the Copepoda

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Adult somatic nuclear DNA contents are reported for eleven cyclopoid species (Megacyclops latipes, Mesocyclops edax, M. longisetus, M. ruttneri, M. leuckarti, M. woutersi, Macrocyclops albidus, Cyclops strenuus, Acanthocyclops robustus, Diothona oculata, Thermocyclops crassus) and for the harpacticoid Tigriopus californicus and range from 0.50 to 4.1 pg DNA per nucleus. These diploid genome sizes are consistent with previously published values for four Cyclops species (0.28-1.8 pg DNA per nucleus), but are strikingly smaller than those reported for marine calanoids (4.32-24.92 pg DNA per nucleus). We discuss three explanations, none of them exclusive of another, to account for the smaller size and range of cyclopoid genome sizes relative to calanoid genome sizes: (1) higher prevalence of chromatin diminution in the Cyclopoida, (2) phylogenetic structure or older age of the Calanoida relative to Cyclopoida and (3) nucleotypic selection that may influence life history variation and fitness. Measurements of genome size were made on Feulgen stained, somatic cell nuclei, using scanning microdensitometry which is well suited to the sparse and heterogeneous populations of copepod nuclei. The importance of measuring large numbers of nuclei per specimen, possible sources of variation associated with cytophotometric measurements, and appropriate use of internal reference standards and stoichiometry of the Feulgen stained nuclei are discussed.