Which life form has the biggest genome? © FIPA

Which life form has the biggest genome?

The genome contains an organism’s genetic material, but being bigger doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the most DNA.

Asked by: Carl Rother, Exeter

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There is still no comprehensive list of genome sequences of all life forms.

But from what is available, it looks like the Japanese canopy plant is currently the biggest, with 50 times more DNA than the human genome.

Of the animals, the marbled lungfish’s genome (Protopterus aethiopicus, pictured) weighs in at 44 times ours. But while size matters for biodiversity studies and understanding the evolution of such large genomes, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean more complex.

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A larger genome size may simply be indicative of repetitive DNA, rather than a greater number of genes that actually contribute to the organisms’ code.