Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 181, 109-135. 1972
Nuclear DNA content and minimum generation time in herbaceous plants.
M. D. Bennett

Many components of cell and nuclear size and mass are correlated with nuclear DNA content in plants, as also are the durations and rates of such developmental processes as mitosis and meiosis. It is suggested that the multiple effects of the mass of nuclear DNA which affect all cells and apply throughout the life of the plant can together determine the minimum generation time for each species. The durations of mitosis and of meiosis are both positively correlated with nuclear DNA content and, therefore, species with a short minimum generation time might be expected to have a shorter mean cell cycle time and mean meiotic duration, and a lower mean nuclear DNA content, than species with a long mean minimum generation time. In tests of this hypothesis, using data collated from the literature, it is shown that the mean cell cycle time and the mean meiotic duration in annual species is significantly shorter than in perennial species. Furthermore, the mean nuclear DNA content of annual species is significantly lower than for perennial species both in dicotyledons and monocotyledons. Ephemeral species have a significantly lower mean nuclear DNA content than annual species. Among perennial monocotyledons the mean nuclear DNA content of species which can complete a life cycle within one year (facultative perennials) is significantly lower than the mean nuclear DNA content of those which cannot (obligate perennials). However, the mean nuclear DNA content of facultative perennials does not differ significantly from the mean for annual species. It is suggested that the effects of nuclear DNA content on the duration of developmental processes are most obvious during its determinant stages, and that the largest effects of nuclear DNA mass are expressed at times when development is slowest, for instance, during meiosis or at low temperature. It has been suggested that DNA influences development in two ways, directly through its informational content, and indirectly by the physical-mechanical effects of its mass. The term 'nucleotype' is used to describe those conditions of the nucleus which effect the phenotype independently of the informational content of the DNA. It is suggested that cell cycle time, meiotic duration, and minimum generation time are determined by the nucleotype. In addition, it may be that satellite DNA is significant in its nucleotypic effects on developmental processes.