Nuclear DNA content (2C) is used as a new criterion to investigate nearly all species of the genus Nerine Herb. The species have the same chromosome number (2n = 2x = 22), with the exception of three triploid plants found. The nuclear DNA content of the diploids, as measured by flow cytometry with propidium iodide, is demonstrated to range from 18.0–35.3 pg. This implies that the largest genome contains roughly 2 × 1010 more base pairs than the smallest. The species, arranged according to increasing genome size, fell apart in three groups if growth cycle and leaf width were also considered. A narrow-leafed, evergreen group with a DNA content between 18.0 and 24.6 pg contains thirteen species, a broad-leaved winter growing group with four species has a DNA content from 25.3–26.2 pg and a broad-leafed summer growing group has a DNA content of 26.8–35.3 pg and contains six species. If the presence of filament appendages and hairiness of the pedicels were also considered, the thirteen evergreen species could be further divided into a group without filament appendages or hairy pedicels with a DNA content of 18.0–18.7 pg. A second group without filament appendages but with hairy pedicels had a DNA content of 19.7–22.3 pg. And a third group with both filament appendages and hairy pedicels had a DNA content of 22.0–24.6 pg. The exception is N. marincowitzii that, despite a low DNA content and narrow leaves is summer growing. The broad-leafed group is further characterised by the absence of filament appendages and the absence of strongly hairy pedicels. The exception here is N. pusilla that, despite a high DNA content, has narrow leaves and minutely hairy pedicels. Nuclear DNA content as measured by flow cytometry is shown to be relevant to throw new light on the relationships between Nerine species.
NerineTaxonomy DNA content genome size flow cytometry