, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 467-478
Date: 03 Aug 2013

Evolution and biology of supernumerary B chromosomes

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Abstract

B chromosomes (Bs) are dispensable components of the genome exhibiting non-Mendelian inheritance and have been widely reported on over several thousand eukaryotes, but still remain an evolutionary mystery ever since their first discovery over a century ago [1]. Recent advances in genome analysis have significantly improved our knowledge on the origin and composition of Bs in the last few years. In contrast to the prevalent view that Bs do not harbor genes, recent analysis revealed that Bs of sequenced species are rich in gene-derived sequences. We summarize the latest findings on supernumerary chromosomes with a special focus on the origin, DNA composition, and the non-Mendelian accumulation mechanism of Bs.