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Genetics. 2011 Mar;187(3):853-63. doi: 10.1534/genetics.110.122713.

A single, recent origin of the accessory B chromosome of the grasshopper Eyprepocnemis plorans.

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Departamento de Genética, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain.


B chromosomes are dispensable chromosomes found in >2000 eukaryotic species, usually behaving as genomic parasites. Most B chromosomes seem to be made up of the same kind of DNA sequences present in the A chromosomes. This sequence similarity makes it difficult to obtain specific molecular probes that may permit B-presence diagnosis without cytogenetic analysis. We have developed a sequence-characterized amplified region (SCAR) marker for B chromosomes in the grasshopper Eyprepocnemis plorans, which specifically amplifies a 1510-bp DNA fragment exclusively in B-carrying individuals. Fluorescent in situ hybridization and fiber FISH analyses showed that this marker is a tandemly repeated DNA sequence closely intermingled with 45S rDNA. PCR reactions showed the presence of SCAR-like sequences in the A chromosomes, but in two separate fragments, supporting the intraspecific origin of B chromosomes in this species. SCAR marker DNA sequence showed to be identical in B chromosome variants from several localities from Spain and Morocco, and it was very similar to those found in B chromosome variants from Greece and Armenia. This strongly suggests that this sequence was already present in the ancestral B chromosome of this species. In addition, the scarce sequence variation observed among several B variants from very distant populations suggests either a functional constraint or, more likely, a recent and unique origin for B chromosomes in this species.

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