, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 282-293

Compositional transitions in the nuclear genomes of cold-blooded vertebrates

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Summary

The compositional properties of DNAs from 122 species of fishes and from 18 other coldblooded vertebrates (amphibians and reptiles) were compared with those from 10 warm-blooded vertebrates (mammals and birds) and found to be substantially different. Indeed, DNAs from cold-blooded vertebrates are characterized by much lower intermolecular compositional heterogeneities and CsCl band asymmetries, by a much wider spectrum of modal buoyant densities in CsCl, by generally lower amounts of satellites, as well as by the fact that in no case do buoyant densities reach the high values found in the GC-richest components of DNAs from warm-blooded vertebrates.

In the case of fish genomes, which were more extensively studied, different orders were generally characterized by modal buoyant densities that were different in average values as well as in their ranges. In contrast, different families within any given order were more often characterized by narrow ranges of modal buoyant densities, and no difference in modal buoyant density was found within any single genus (except for the genusAphyosemion, which should be split into several genera).

The compositional differences that were found among species belonging to different orders and to different families within the same order are indicative of compositional transitions, which were shown to be essentially due to directional base substitutions. These transitions were found to be independent of geological time. Moreover, the rates of directional base substitutions were found to be very variable and to reach, in some cases, extremely high values, that were even higher than those of silent substitutions in primates. The taxonomic and evolutionary implications of these findings are discussed.