Chromosome Research

, 19:825 | Cite as

The effects of rapid desiccation on estimates of plant genome size

  • Jillian D. Bainard
  • Brian C. Husband
  • Sarah J. Baldwin
  • Aron J. Fazekas
  • T. Ryan Gregory
  • Steven G. Newmaster
  • Paul Kron


Flow cytometry has become the dominant method for estimating nuclear DNA content in plants, either for ploidy determination or quantification of absolute genome size. Current best practices for flow cytometry involve the analysis of fresh tissue, however, this imposes significant limitations on the geographic scope and taxonomic diversity of plants that can be included in large-scale genome size studies. Dried tissue has been used increasingly in recent years, but largely in the context of ploidy analysis. Here we test rapid tissue drying with silica gel as a method for use in genome size studies, potentially enabling broader geographic sampling of plants when fresh tissue collection is not feasible. Our results indicate that rapid drying introduces comparatively minor error (<10%), which is similar to the error introduced by other common methodological variations such as instrument. Additionally, the relative effect of drying on genome size and data quality varied between species and buffers. Tissue desiccation provides a promising approach for expanding our knowledge of plant genome size diversity.


DNA content dried tissue flow cytometry polyploidy silica gel 



Coefficient of variation


Propidium iodide



This study represented a collaborative project involving three research groups and was supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grants to BCH, TRG, and SGN and used equipment provided through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Ontario Research Fund (ORF). Additional support was provided to BCH through a Canada Research Chair and to JDB by an NSERC postgraduate scholarship. We sincerely thank P. Šmarda and J. Suda for providing constructive feedback on the manuscript. We wish to thank several other lab members for assisting with flow cytometric analysis, including Anastasia Richardson, Kelly Hadfield, Nicholas Jeffery, João Lima, Paula Nathwani, and Paola Pierossi. We also thank Hana Serajaddini, Lindsay Wilson, Benjamin Yim, and Thomas Henry for lab and field assistance.

Supplementary material

10577_2011_9232_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
(DOCX 21.8 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jillian D. Bainard
    • 1
  • Brian C. Husband
    • 1
  • Sarah J. Baldwin
    • 1
  • Aron J. Fazekas
    • 1
  • T. Ryan Gregory
    • 1
  • Steven G. Newmaster
    • 1
  • Paul Kron
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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