Genome size variation in deep-sea amphipods

Heather Ritchie, Alan John Jamieson, Stuart Brannon Piertney

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Genome size varies considerably across taxa, and extensive research effort has gone into understanding whether variation can be explained by differences in key ecological and life-history traits among species. The extreme environmental conditions that characterize the deep sea have been hypothesized to promote large genome sizes in eukaryotes. Here we test this supposition by examining genome sizes among 13 species of deep-sea amphipods from the Mariana, Kermadec and New Hebrides trenches. Genome sizes were estimated using flow cytometry and found to vary nine-fold, ranging from 4.06 pg (4.04 Gb) in Paralicella caperesca to 34.79 pg (34.02 Gb) in Alicella gigantea. Phylogenetic independent contrast analysis identified a relationship between genome size and maximum body size, though this was largely driven by those species that display size gigantism. There was a distinct shift in the genome size trait diversification rate in the supergiant amphipod A. gigantea relative to the rest of the group. The variation in genome size observed is striking and argues against genome size being driven by a common evolutionary history, ecological niche and life-history strategy in deep-sea amphipods.
Original languageEnglish
Article number170862
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Early online date13 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding: This work was supported by the HADEEP projects, funded by the Nippon Foundation, Japan (2009765188); the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK (NE/E007171/1); Total Foundation, France; National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), New Zealand (CO1_0906); Schmidt Ocean Institute, USA (FK141109) (A.J.J. and S.B.P); Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) (HR09011 and DSSG15) (H.R., A.J.J., S.B.P); and the Leverhulme Trust (S.B.P.).

Acknowledgements: We thank the chief scientists, crew and company of the New Zealand RV Kaharoa (KAH1301 and KAH1310) and the United States RV Falkor (Cruise FK141109). From NIWA, we thank Malcolm Clark, Ashley Rowden, Kareen Schnabel, and Sadie Mills for logistical support at the NIWA Invertebrate Collection. We thank NOAA Marine National Monuments, Richard Hall and Eric Breuer for their support and collaboration. We also thank Attila Bebes and the Iain Fraser Cytometry Centre (IFCC) for technical assistance.

Electronic supplementary material is available online at


  • genome size
  • deep sea
  • amphipods
  • gigantism
  • adaptation
  • evolution


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