, Volume 124, Issue 2-3, pp 255-272

Multiple origins of tetraploid taxa in the Eurasian Bufo viridis subgroup

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We used Q-banding and analyzed nucleolar organizing regions (NORs) to study the cytogenetic evolution of tetraploids within the Palearctic Bufo viridis subgroup, the only known amphibian complex comprising di-, tri- and tetraploid bisexually reproducing taxa. We examined three diploid (2n) nominal taxa (Bufo viridis viridis, B. v. turanensis, B. v. kermanensis) from five Eurasian localities and six tetraploid (4n) nominal taxa (B. oblongus, B. o. danatensis, B. pewzowi pewzowi, B. p. taxkorensis, B. p. unicolor, B. p. strauchi) from eight Central Asian localities. Homeologous chromosomes of 2n and 4n toads exhibit a similar morphology. Silver-staining and in situ hybridization revealed terminal NORs in the long arms of chromosomes 6 in all 2n but in only two out of four chromosomes 6 in all 4n taxa. Q-banding and a rapidly evolving mitochondrial marker suggest at least two origination events for Asian 4n toads: “Western Central Asian tetraploids’’ (B. oblongus Nikolsky, 1896) exhibit distinct differences within some chromosome quartets, which are divisible into pairs of chromosomes and may be allopolyploid. In contrast, “Central Asian tetraploids” (B. pewzowi Bedriaga, 1898) showed homogenous Q-banding patterns within each quartet, suggesting autopolyploidy. In Northeastern Iran, we discovered a zone of either common ancestry or hybridization of 2n and Western Central Asian 4n toads. This raises intriguing questions about how diploid and tetraploid taxa may evolve by exchanging genetic material.