Ecological constraints associated with genome size across salamander lineages

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Authors: Lertzman-Lepofsky, G; Mooers, AO; Greenberg, DA
Year: 2019
Journal: Proc. R. Soc. B-Biol. Sci. 286   Article Link (DOI)  PubMed
Title: Ecological constraints associated with genome size across salamander lineages
Abstract: Salamanders have some of the largest, and most variable, genome sizes among the vertebrates. Larger genomes have been associated with larger cell sizes, lower metabolic rates, and longer embryonic and larval durations in many different taxonomic groups. These life-history traits are often important for dictating fitness under different environmental conditions, suggesting that a species' genome site may have the potential to constrain its ecological distribution. We test how genome size varies with the ephemerality of larval habitat across the salamanders, predicting that species with larger genomes will be constrained to more permanent habitats that permit slower development, while species with smaller genomes will be more broadly distributed across the gradient of habitat ephemerality. We found that salamanders with larger genomes are almost exclusively associated with permanent aquatic habitats. In addition, the evolutionary transition rate between permanent and ephemeral larval habitats is much higher in salamander lineages with smaller genome sizes. These patterns suggest that genome size may act as an evolutionary constraint on the ecological habitats of salamanders, restricting those species with large genomes and slower development to habitats with permanent sources of water.
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