Background and Aims Cytological parameters such as chromosome numbers and genome sizes of plants are used routinely for studying evolutionary aspects of polyploid plants. Members of Zingiberaceae show a wide range of inter- and intrageneric variation in their reproductive habits and ploidy levels. Conventional cytological study in this group of plants is severely hampered by the presence of diverse secondary metabolites, which also affect their genome size estimation using flow cytometry. None of the several nuclei isolation buffers used in flow cytometry could be used very successfully for members of Zingiberaceae to isolate good quality nuclei from both shoot and root tissues.
Methods The competency of eight nuclei isolation buffers was compared with a newly formulated buffer, MB01, in six different genera of Zingiberaceae based on the fluorescence intensity of propidium iodide-stained nuclei using flow cytometric parameters, namely coefficient of variation of the G0/G1 peak, debris factor and nuclei yield factor. Isolated nuclei were studied using fluorescence microscopy and bio-scanning electron microscopy to analyse stain–nuclei interaction and nuclei topology, respectively. Genome contents of 21 species belonging to these six genera were determined using MB01.
Key Results Flow cytometric parameters showed significant differences among the analysed buffers. MB01 exhibited the best combination of analysed parameters; photomicrographs obtained from fluorescence and electron microscopy supported the superiority of MB01 buffer over other buffers. Among the 21 species studied, nuclear DNA contents of 14 species are reported for the first time.
Conclusions Results of the present study substantiate the enhanced efficacy of MB01, compared to other buffers tested, in the generation of acceptable cytograms from all species of Zingiberaceae studied. Our study facilitates new ways of sample preparation for further flow cytometric analysis of genome size of other members belonging to this highly complex polyploid family.