, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 17–29

Variation within and between nucleolar organizer regions in Australian hylid frogs (Anura) shown by 18S+28S in-situ hybridization

  • M. King
  • N. Contreras
  • R. L. Honeycutt

DOI: 10.1007/BF00120116

Cite this article as:
King, M., Contreras, N. & Honeycutt, R.L. Genetica (1990) 80: 17. doi:10.1007/BF00120116


Five distinct classes of secondary constriction are found in the hylid frogs from the genera Litoria and Cyclorana, each of which is defined by its C-banding pattern and morphology (King, 1980, 1987). In-situ hybridization experiments utilizing 18S+28S copy RNA probes derived from Xenopus and Drosophila rDNA templates, were made on nine species of frogs possessing the major constriction types. Types 1, 2, 4, and 5 are confirmed as being NORs. These results also indicate that type 1 and 2 constriction types are not differentially despiralized as previously suggested, but show absolute differences in the quantity of ribosomal DNA present. This variation took two forms, deletion polymorphism and amplification polymorphism. These differences were observed between homologues within cells and between cells within individuals. Animals possessing these ‘despiralized’ constrictions are therefore mosaics for both deletion and amplification polymorphisms.

Polymorphism frequencies vary greatly between constriction types. Some specimens have a higher level of presence/absence heterozygosity, (L. moorei, type 2, L. nannotis type 5, L. raniformis) (animal A, pair 8 type 2), than do others (L. peronii, L. rothii, L. caerulea). The above species also vary markedly in the degree and frequency of amplification of the NORs. The type 4 constrictions analysed (L. coplandi, L. Lesueuri and C. novaehollandiae) have a particularly low frequency of presence/absence heterozygosity, and they have fewer size heteromorphisms between homologues. The type 3 ephemeral constrictions did not hybridize to cRNA probes at any stage.

In all but one of the species studied, a single pair of chromosomes possessed an NOR. However, in L. raniformis these occurred on two pairs of chromosomes. Each of these sites behaved independently, and the pair 8 constriction had significantly more between cell variation than did that on pair 13. The significance of these observations is discussed and is related to the evolution of NOR structure and the distribution of heterochromatin in amphibians.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. King
    • 1
  • N. Contreras
    • 2
  • R. L. Honeycutt
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Natural Sciences DivisionMuseum of Arts and Sciences of the Northern TerritoryDarwinAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Population Biology, Research School of Biological SciencesThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.the Museum of Comparative ZoologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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