Karyotypic divergence reveals that diversity in the Oecomys paricola complex (Rodentia, Sigmodontinae) from eastern Amazonia is higher than previously thought.
The genus Oecomys (Rodentia, Sigmodontinae) is distributed from southern Central America to southeastern Brazil in South America. It currently comprises 18 species, but multidisciplinary approaches such as karyotypic, morphological and molecular studies have shown that there is a greater diversity within some lineages than others. In particular, it has been proposed that O. paricola constitutes a species complex with three evolutionary units, which have been called the northern, eastern and western clades. Aiming to clarify the taxonomic status of O. paricola and determine the relevant chromosomal rearrangements, we investigated the karyotypes of samples from eastern Amazonia by chromosomal banding and FISH with Hylaeamys megacephalus (HME) whole-chromosome probes. We detected three cytotypes for O. paricola: A (OPA-A; 2n = 72, FN = 75), B (OPA-B; 2n = 70, FN = 75) and C (OPA-C; 2n = 70, FN = 72). Comparative chromosome painting showed that fusions/fissions, translocations and pericentric inversions or centromeric repositioning were responsible for the karyotypic divergence. We also detected exclusive chromosomal signatures that can be used as phylogenetic markers. Our analysis of karyotypic and distribution information indicates that OPA-A, OPA-B and OPA-C are three distinct species that belong to the eastern clade, with sympatry occurring between two of them, and that the "paricola group" is more diverse than was previously thought.