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Cytogenet Genome Res. 2012;137(2-4):144-53. doi: 10.1159/000341387. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

The chromosomes of Afrotheria and their bearing on mammalian genome evolution.

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1
Departamento de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. svartmanm@hotmail.com

Abstract

Afrotheria is the clade of placental mammals that, together with Xenarthra, Euarchontoglires and Laurasiatheria, represents 1 of the 4 main recognized supraordinal eutherian clades. It reunites 6 orders of African origin: Proboscidea, Sirenia, Hyracoidea, Macroscelidea, Afrosoricida and Tubulidentata. The apparently unlikely relationship among such disparate morphological taxa and their possible basal position at the base of the eutherian phylogenetic tree led to a great deal of attention and research on the group. The use of biomolecular data was pivotal in Afrotheria studies, as they were the basis for the recognition of this clade. Although morphological evidence is still scarce, a plethora of molecular data firmly attests to the phylogenetic relationship among these mammals of African origin. Modern cytogenetic techniques also gave a significant contribution to the study of Afrotheria, revealing chromosome signatures for the group as a whole, as well as for some of its internal relationships. The associations of human chromosomes HSA1/19 and 5/21 were found to be chromosome signatures for the group and provided further support for Afrotheria. Additional chromosome synapomorphies were also identified linking elephants and manatees in Tethytheria (the associations HSA2/3, 3/13, 8/22, 18/19 and the lack of HSA4/8) and elephant shrews with the aardvark (HSA2/8, 3/20 and 10/17). Herein, we review the current knowledge on Afrotheria chromosomes and genome evolution. The already available data on the group suggests that further work on this apparently bizarre assemblage of mammals will provide important data to a better understanding on mammalian genome evolution.

PMID:
22868637
DOI:
10.1159/000341387
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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