The genus Ramonda includes three preglacial paleoendemic species surviving as the rare resurrection angiosperms of the Northern hemisphere in refugia habitats in the Balkan (Ramonda nathaliae and Ramonda serbica) and Iberian Peninsulas (Ramonda myconi). This study focuses on: assessing genome size and base composition, determining chromosome number and ploidy level in several populations, evaluating inter- and intra-specific variations in DNA content and chromosome number as well as looking for the possible hybridization in the sympatric zones of Balkan species. R. nathaliae and R. myconi are diploid species (2n = 2x = 48) while R. serbica is hexaploid (2n = 6x = 144). The mean 2C DNA values ranged from 2.30 pg for R. nathaliae to 2.59 pg for R. myconi compared to 7.91 pg for R. serbica. The base composition for R. nathaliae was 42.1% GC, for R. myconi 39.9% and for R. serbica 41.2%. In one population of R. serbica the DNA content ranged from 2C = 7.65 to 11.82 pg, revealing different ploidy levels among its individuals. In sympatric populations genome size was intermediary (∼5 pg) between the diploid and hexaploid classes which indicates the hybridization ability between R. serbica and R. nathaliae. It appears that polyploidization is the major evolutionary mechanism in the genus Ramonda.
Genome size variation and polyploidy in the resurrection plant genus Ramonda: Cytogeography of living fossils
Publication: Environmental and Experimental Botany