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Comparative chromosome maps between the stone curlew and three ciconiiform species (the grey heron, little egret and crested ibis).

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Wang, Jinhuan 
Su, Weiting 
Hu, Yi 
Li, Shengbin 
O'Brien, Patricia CM 


BACKGROUND: Previous cytogenetic studies show that the karyotypes of species in Ciconiiformes vary considerably, from 2n = 52 to 78. Their karyotypes include different numbers of small to minute bi-armed chromosomes that have evolved probably by fusions of two ancestral microchromosomes, besides macrochromosomes and dot-like microchromosomes. However, it is impossible to define the inter-species homologies of such small-sized bi-armed chromosomes based on chromosome morphology and banding characteristics. Although painting probes from the chicken (Gallus gallus, GGA) chromosomes 1-9 and Z have been widely used to investigate avian chromosome homologies, GGA microchromosome probes are rarely used in these studies because most GGA microchromosome probes generated by flow sorting often contain multiple GGA microchromosomes. In contrast, the stone curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus, BOE, Charadriiformes) has an atypical low diploid chromosome number (42) karyotype and only 4 pairs of dot-like microchromosomes; a set of chromosome-specific painting probes that cover all BOE chromosomes has been generated. To get a genome-wide view of evolutionary chromosomal rearrangements in different lineages of Ciconiiformes, we used BOE painting probes instead of GGA painting probes to analyze the karyotypes of three ciconiiform species belonging to two different families: the eastern grey heron (Ardea cinerea, ACI, 2n = 64, Ardeidae), the little egret (Egretta garzetta, EGA, 2n = 64, Ardeidae) and the crested ibis (Nipponia nippon, NNI, 2n = 68, Threskiornithidae). RESULTS: BOE painting probes display the same hybridization pattern on chromosomes of ACI and EGA, while a different hybridization pattern is observed on chromosomes of NNI. BOE autosome probes detected 21 conserved homologous segments and 5 fusions on the sixteen pairs of recognizable chromosomes of ACI and EGA, while 16 conserved homologous segments and 4 fusions were found on the twelve pairs of recognizable chromosomes of NNI. Only a portion of smaller bi-armed chromosomes in the karyotypes of the ciconiiform species could have evolved from fusions of ancestral microchromosomes. In particular BOE 5, which is the result of a fusion between two segments homologous to GGA 7 and 8 respectively, was retained also as either a single chromosome in ACI (ACI 5) and EGA (EGA 5) or had fused with a part of the BOE 10 equivalent in NNI (NNI 5). CONCLUSION: Our painting results indicate that different chromosome rearrangements occur in different ciconiiform lineages. Some of the small-sized bi-armed chromosomes in ACI, EGA and NNI are derived from the fusions of two microchromosomes, indicating that microchromosome fusions play an important role in ciconiiform chromosome evolution. The fusion segment homologous to GGA 7 and 8 is a potential cytogenetic signature that unites Ardeidae and Threskiornithidae.



Chromosomal rearrangements, Chromosome painting, Herons, Ibises, Microchromosome fusion, Stone curlew, Animals, Charadriiformes, Chickens, Chromosome Painting, Evolution, Molecular, Humans, Karyotype

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BMC Ecol Evol

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC