Genome size correlates with reproductive fitness in seed beetles.
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The ultimate cause of genome size (GS) evolution in eukaryotes remains a major and unresolved puzzle in evolutionary biology. Large-scale comparative studies have failed to find consistent correlations between GS and organismal properties, resulting in the 'C-value paradox'. Current hypotheses for the evolution of GS are based either on the balance between mutational events and drift or on natural selection acting upon standing genetic variation in GS. It is, however, currently very difficult to evaluate the role of selection because within-species studies that relate variation in life-history traits to variation in GS are very rare. Here, we report phylogenetic comparative analyses of GS evolution in seed beetles at two distinct taxonomic scales, which combines replicated estimation of GS with experimental assays of life-history traits and reproductive fitness. GS showed rapid and bidirectional evolution across species, but did not show correlated evolution with any of several indices of the relative importance of genetic drift. Within a single species, GS varied by 4-5% across populations and showed positive correlated evolution with independent estimates of male and female reproductive fitness. Collectively, the phylogenetic pattern of GS diversification across and within species in conjunction with the pattern of correlated evolution between GS and fitness provide novel support for the tenet that natural selection plays a key role in shaping GS evolution.