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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55608. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055608. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

Are NORs always located on homeologous chromosomes? A FISH investigation with rDNA and whole chromosome probes in Gymnotus fishes (Gymnotiformes).

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Laboratório de Citogenética, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal do Pará, Belém, Pará, Brazil.


Gymnotus (Gymnotiformes, Gymnotidae) is the most diverse known Neotropical electric knife fish genus. Cytogenetic studies in Gymnotus demonstrate a huge karyotypic diversity for this genus, with diploid numbers ranging from 34 to 54. The NOR are also variable in this genus, with both single and multiple NORs described. A common interpretation is that the single NOR pair is a primitive trait while multiple NORs are derivative. However this hypothesis has never been fully tested. In this report we checked if the NOR-bearing chromosome and the rDNA site are homeologous in different species of the genus Gymnotus: G. carapo (2n = 40, 42, 54), G. mamiraua (2n = 54), G. arapaima (2n = 44), G. sylvius (2n = 40), G. inaequilabiatus (2n = 54) and G. capanema (2n = 34), from the monophyletic group G. carapo (Gymnotidae-Gymnotiformes), as well as G. jonasi (2n = 52), belonging to the G1 group. They were analyzed with Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) using 18S rDNA and whole chromosome probes of the NOR-bearing chromosome 20 (GCA20) of G. carapo (cytotype 2n = 42), obtained by Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting. All species of the monophyletic G. carapo group show the NOR in the same single pair, confirmed by hybridization with CGA20 whole chromosome probe. In G. jonasi the NORs are multiple, and located on pairs 9, 10 and 11. In G. jonasi the GCA20 chromosome probe paints the distal half of the long arm of pair 7, which is not a NOR-bearing chromosome. Thus these rDNA sequences are not always in the homeologous chromosomes in different species thus giving no support to the hypothesis that single NOR pairs are primitive traits while multiple NORs are derived. The separation of groups of species in the genus Gymnotus proposed by phylogenies with morphologic and molecular data is supported by our cytogenetic data.

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