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Genetica. 2001;111(1-3):329-47.

Selachian cytogenetics: a review.

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Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita--Seconda Universit√° di Napoli, Caserta, Italy.


The karyotype of Chondrichthyes is still the least investigated among vertebrates. Over the last 40 years, the karyotypes of 63 out of the 1100 known species (5.73%) have been described in literature, namely seven squalomorph, one squatinomorph, 20 galeomorph, 33 batoid and two holocephalian species. Generally, the diploid number ranges from a minimum of 28 to a maximum of 106 elements, with more frequent values observed between 50 and 100 chromosomes. None of the four superorders is characterized by a peculiar chromosome set or morphology; the number of uniarmed and biarmed elements is variable in all the karyotypes, and microchromosomes are often present. The general trend in all groups seems to be a progressive reduction of the telocentric chromosome number in the most specialized species, followed by the loss of the microchromosomes. Polyploidy, followed by diploidization events and Robertsonian rearrangements, might have played a key role in the karyological evolution of elasmobranch fish. Chondrichthyes have the largest genome sizes among vertebrates, with the exception of dipnoans and urodeles. In the whole class, the species examined vary greatly in size, from 3 to 34pg/N: the lowest values have been observed in holocephalians, while galeoids and batoids have a DNA amount ranging from 5 to 15 pg/N. Squaloids show heterogeneous DNA amounts, ranging from 8 to 34 pg/N. In more recent years, karyological studies have provided new data on the characterization of selachian karyotypes by C-banding, NOR staining, restriction enzymes in situ digestion and FISH with specific DNA probes, such as telomeric and SINE sequences.

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