Nuclear genome of dinoflagellates: Size variation and insights into evolutionary mechanisms

Eur J Protistol. 2024 Apr:93:126061. doi: 10.1016/j.ejop.2024.126061. Epub 2024 Feb 3.


Recent progress in high-throughput sequencing technologies has dramatically increased availability of genome data for prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Dinoflagellates have distinct chromosomes and a huge genome size, which make their genomic analysis complicated. Here, we reviewed the nuclear genomes of core dinoflagellates, focusing on the genome and cell size. Till now, the genome sizes of several dinoflagellates (more than 25) have been measured by certain methods (e.g., flow cytometry), showing a range of 3-250 pg of genomic DNA per cell. In contrast to their relatively small cell size, their genomes are huge (about 1-80 times the human haploid genome). In the present study, we collected the genome and cell size data of dinoflagellates and compared their relationships. We found that dinoflagellate genome size exhibits a positive correlation with cell size. On the other hand, we recognized that the genome size is not correlated with phylogenetic relatedness. These may be caused by genome duplication, increased gene copy number, repetitive non-coding DNA, transposon expansion, horizontal gene transfer, organelle-to-nucleus gene transfer, and/or mRNA reintegration into the genome. Ultimate verification of these factors as potential causative mechanisms would require sequencing of more dinoflagellate genomes in the future.

Keywords: Cell biovolume; DNA content; Dinoflagellata; Genome evolution; Size variation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • DNA
  • Dinoflagellida* / genetics
  • Genome / genetics
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny


  • DNA