Chromosome Research

, 19:809 | Cite as

New genome size estimates of 134 species of arthropods



Insect genome size diversity remains poorly sampled, with sparse and sporadic sampling of a few select orders and with many orders unrepresented or underrepresented in the genome size database. Here, we present 134 genome size estimates for 18 orders, including the first ever genome size estimates for eight orders, 38 families, 102 genera, and 131 species. Also reported here are three insect species genome size estimates that are corrections for unpublished genome size values that made it into the literature, including the smallest arthropod genome of the two spot spider mite (1C = 91 Mb). These estimates range from 91 to 7,752 Mb and provide a broader picture of genome size variation within Insecta and among all Arthropods. Proposed developmental constraints for holometabolous insect genome sizes are supported, with the majority of the species examined falling well under the hypothesized 1,978 Mb (2 pg) limit. The only exceptions occur in the highly diverse beetles (Coleoptera) (154 < 1C < 2,578) and the Mecoptera (1,890 < 1C < 2,134). Hemimetabolous orders include species with larger genomes. Of these, the Orthopteran genomes remain the largest (675 < 1C < 7,752). Hemipteran genomes are smaller (407 < 1C < 1,230), but with a very notable exception, the Cicadidae family, with bloated genomes (5,238 < 1C < 7,000 Mb) of a size previously known to exist only within Orthoptera. The genome sizes in all other Hemimetabolous orders (521 Mb < 1C < 3,860 Mb) fall within the range exhibited by the Hemiptera. New preparations and procedures for insect genome estimates with frozen material are described and discussed. To further improve and extend the number and quality of arthropod genome size estimates, a new flow cytometry insect standard, Blattaria: Periplaneta americana♂ (1C = 3,338 Mb) is established for genome size determination of insect genomes in excess of 2,000 Mb.


Genome size DNA flow cytometry evolutionary genomics arthropods 



Chicken Red Blood Cells - Gallus gallus domesticus


Deoxyribonucleic acid




Million years ago


Periplaneta americana


Texas A&M University


  1. AgriLife Extension Texas A&M System (2011) American cockroach.
  2. Brusca RC, Brusca GJ (2003) Invertebrates. Sinauer Associates, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
  3. DeSalle R, Gregory TR, Johnston JS (2005) Preparation of samples for comparative studies of arthropod chromosomes: visualization, in situ hybridization, and genome size estimation. Methods Enzymol 395:460–488PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. French CK, Manning JE (1980) DNA sequence organization in the Thysanura Thermobia domestica. J Mol Evol 15:277–289PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Galbraith DW, Harkins KR, Maddox JM, Ayres NM, Sharma DP, Firoozabady E (1983) Rapid flow cytometric analysis of the cell cycle in intact plant tissues. Science 220:1049–1051PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gaston KJ (1991) The magnitude of global insect species richness. Conserv Biol 5:283–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gatehouse JA, Price ARG (2011) Protection of crops against insect pests using RNA interference. Insect Biotechnology Biol Inspir Syst 2(Part 2):145–168Google Scholar
  8. Grbic M, Khila A, Lee KZ, Bjelica A, Grbic V et al (2007) Mity model: Tetranychus urticae, a candidate chelicerate model organism. Bioessays 29:489–496PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gregory TR (2001) Coincidence, coevolution, or causation? DNA content, cell size, and the C-value enigma. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc 76(1):65–101PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gregory TR (2002) Genome size and developmental complexity. Genetica 115(1):131–146PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gregory TR (2005) Evolution of the genome. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  12. Gregory TR (2011) Animal genome size database.
  13. Gregory TR, Johnston JS (2008) Genome size diversity in the family Drosophilidae. Heredity 101:228–238PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grimaldi DA, Engel MS (2005) Evolution of the insects. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  15. Hare EW, Johnston JS (2011) Genome size determination using flow cytometry. In: Orgogozo V, Rockman M (eds) Molecular methods for evolutionary genetics. Humana, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Johnston JS, Ross LD, Beani L, Hughes DP, Kathirithamby J (2004) Tiny genomes and endoreduplication in Strepsiptera. Insect Mol Biol 13:581–585PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnston JS, Yoon KS, Strycharz JP, Pittendrigh BR, Clark JM (2007) Body lice and head lice (Anoplura: Pediculidae) have the smallest genomes of any hemimetabolous insect reported to date. J Med Entomol 44(6):1009–1012PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kraaijeveld K (2010) Genome size and species diversification. Evolutionary Biol 37:227–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Nolan T, Papathanos P, Windbichler N, Magnusson K, Benton J, Catteruccia F, Crisanti A (2011) Developing transgenic Anopheles mosquitoes for the sterile insect technique. Genetica 139:33–39PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Schmidt-Ott U, Ab MR, Sander K, Johnston JS (2009) Extremely small genomes in two unrelated dipteran insects with shared early developmental traits. Dev Genes Evol 219:207–210PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sharaf K, Horová L, Pavlíček T, Nevo E, Bureš P (2010) Genome size and base composition in Oryzaephilus surinamensis (Coleoptera: Sylvanidae) and differences between native (feral) and silo pest populations in Israel. J Stored Prod Res 46(1):34–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Swift H, Kleinfeld R (1953) DNA in grasshopper spermatogenesis, oögenesis, and cleavage. Physiol Zool 26:301–311Google Scholar
  23. Whiting MF (2002) Mecoptera is paraphyletic: multiple genes and phylogeny of Mecoptera and Siphonaptera. Zoologica Scripta 31(1):93–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wiegmann BM, Trautwein MD, Kim JW, Cassel BK, Bertone MA, Winterton SL, Yeates DK (2009) Single-copy nuclear genes resolve the phylogeny of the holometabolous insects. BMC Biol 7:34. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-7-34 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyTexas A&M University 2475College StationUSA

Personalised recommendations