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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Mar 28;103(13):5224-9. Epub 2006 Mar 20.

Mechanisms of chromosome number reduction in Arabidopsis thaliana and related Brassicaceae species.

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Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond TW9 3AB, United Kingdom.


Evolution of chromosome complements can be resolved by genome sequencing, comparative genetic mapping, and comparative chromosome painting. Previously, comparison of genetic maps and gene-based phylogenies suggested that the karyotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana (n = 5) and of related species with six or seven chromosome pairs were derived from an ancestral karyotype with eight chromosome pairs. To test this hypothesis, we applied multicolor chromosome painting using contiguous bacterial artificial chromosome pools of A. thaliana arranged according to the genetic maps of Arabidopsis lyrata and Capsella rubella (both n = 8) to A. thaliana, A. lyrata, Neslia paniculata, Turritis glabra, and Hornungia alpina. This approach allowed us to map the A. lyrata centromeres as a prerequisite to defining a putative ancestral karyotype (n = 8) and to elucidate the evolutionary mechanisms that shaped the karyotype of A. thaliana and its relatives. We conclude that chromosome "fusions" in A. thaliana resulted from (i) generation of acrocentric chromosomes by pericentric inversions, (ii) reciprocal translocation between two chromosomes (one or both acrocentric), and (iii) elimination of a minichromosome that arose in addition to the "fusion chromosome." Comparative chromosome painting applied to N. paniculata (n = 7), T. glabra (n = 6), and H. alpina (n = 6), for which genetic maps are not available, revealed chromosomal colinearity between all species tested and allowed us to reconstruct the evolution of their chromosomes from a putative ancestral karyotype (n = 8). Although involving different ancestral chromosomes, chromosome number reduction followed similar routes as found within the genus Arabidopsis.

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