, Volume 119, Issue 2, pp 217–225 | Cite as

B chromosome ancestry revealed by histone genes in the migratory locust

  • María Teruel
  • Josefa Cabrero
  • Francisco Perfectti
  • Juan Pedro M. CamachoEmail author
Research Article


In addition to the standard set of chromosomes (A), about 15% of eukaryote genomes carry B chromosomes. In most cases, B chromosomes behave as genomic parasites being detrimental for the individuals carrying them and prospering in natural populations because of transmission advantages (drive). B chromosomes are mostly made up of repetitive DNA sequences, especially ribosomal DNA (rDNA), satellite DNA and mobile elements. In only two cases have B chromosomes been shown to carry protein-coding genes. Although some B chromosomes seem to have derived from interspecific hybridisation, the most likely source of B chromosomes is the host genome itself, but the specific A chromosome being the B ancestor has not been identified in any B-containing species. Here, we provide strong evidence for B chromosome ancestry in the migratory locust, based on the location of genes for the H3 and H4 histones in the B chromosome and a single A chromosome pair (i.e. the eighth in order of decreasing size). The high DNA sequence similarity of A and B chromosome H3–H4 genes supports B-origin from chromosome 8. The higher variation shown by B sequences, compared to A sequences, suggests that B chromosome sequences are most likely inactive and thus less subjected to purifying selection. Estimates of time of divergence for histone genes from A and B chromosomes suggest that B chromosomes are quite old (>750,000 years), showing the B-chromosome ability to persist in natural populations for long periods of time.


Histone Gene Grasshopper Species Putative Amino Acid Sequence Migratory Locust Similar Substitution Rate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Tatiana López for technical assistance and David Martinez for English corrections. This study was supported by grants from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología (CGL2006-06307) and Plan Andaluz de Investigación (CVI-1664). This research was partially performed by FEDER funds.

Supplementary material

412_2009_251_MOESM1_ESM.doc (164 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 163 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • María Teruel
    • 1
  • Josefa Cabrero
    • 1
  • Francisco Perfectti
    • 1
  • Juan Pedro M. Camacho
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Departamento de GenéticaUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain

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