Genomic relationships between Medicago murex Willd. and Medicago lesinsii E. Small. investigated by in situ hybridization
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Medicago murex Willd. is an annual species (2n = 14) widespread in the wild and of remarkable interest for pastures in regions with a mediterranean climate. It is considered closely related to Medicago lesinsii E. Small (2n = 16) but, up to now, there is no evidence demonstrating their genetic affinity. This research was undertaken to investigate the genomic relationships between M. murex and M. lesinsii by using genomic in situ hybridization (GISH). In this study GISH experiments were performed using both species as sources of chromosomes and genomic probes. To better evaluate the results of the hybridization, the labelled DNA of each species was hybridized to chromosomes of the same species and to chromosomes of the diploid Medicago littoralis (2n = 16). Strong hybridization signals were found on chromosomes of M. murex and M. lesinsii after GISH. Differences in the hybridization strength were not observed when slides from interspecific hybridization were compared with the control preparations. These results suggest that consistent divergences of the DNA sequences did not occur after the separation of the two species. Instead very reduced cross hybridization was found on chromosome spreads of M. littoralis hybridized with the DNA of M. lesinsii or M. murex. The distribution of the ribosomal genes (rDNA) investigated by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) appeared similar in both M. murex and M. lesinsii. The GISH technique may be a valuable approach to obtain information on evolution of the 2n = 14 species and on the origin of the polyploids Medicago rugosa (2n = 30) and Medicago scutellata (2n = 30). The first attempt to investigate the genomic composition of M. scutellata using a genomic probe is reported in this paper.
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