Chromosome Research

, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 1075–1091 | Cite as

Chromosomal evolution in tenrecs (Microgale and Oryzorictes, Tenrecidae) from the Central Highlands of Madagascar

  • C. Gilbert
  • S. M. Goodman
  • V. Soarimalala
  • L. E. Olson
  • P. C. M. O’Brien
  • F. F. B. Elder
  • F. Yang
  • M. A. Ferguson-Smith
  • T. J. RobinsonEmail author


Tenrecs (Tenrecidae) are a widely diversified assemblage of small eutherian mammals that occur in Madagascar and Western and Central Africa. With the exception of a few early karyotypic descriptions based on conventional staining, nothing is known about the chromosomal evolution of this family. We present a detailed analysis of G-banded and molecularly defined chromosomes based on fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) that allows a comprehensive comparison between the karyotypes of 11 species of two closely related Malagasy genera, Microgale (10 species) and Oryzorictes (one species), of the subfamily Oryzorictinae. The karyotypes of Microgale taiva and M. parvula (2n = 32) were found to be identical to that of O. hova (2n = 32) most likely reflecting the ancestral karyotypes of both genera, as well as that of the Oryzorictinae. Parsimony analysis of chromosomal rearrangements that could have arisen following Whole Arm Reciprocal Translocations (WARTs) showed, however, that these are more likely to be the result of Robertsonian translocations. A single most parsimonious tree was obtained that provides strong support for three species associations within Microgale, all of which are consistent with previous molecular and morphological investigations. By expanding on a recently published molecular clock for the Tenrecidae we were able to place our findings in a temporal framework that shows strong chromosomal rate heterogeneity within the Oryzorictinae. We use these data to critically examine the possible role of chromosomal rearrangements in speciation within Microgale.

Key words

Afrotheria cytogenetics evolution speciation Tenrecidae 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Gilbert
    • 1
  • S. M. Goodman
    • 2
    • 3
  • V. Soarimalala
    • 3
    • 4
  • L. E. Olson
    • 5
  • P. C. M. O’Brien
    • 6
  • F. F. B. Elder
    • 7
  • F. Yang
    • 8
  • M. A. Ferguson-Smith
    • 6
  • T. J. Robinson
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Evolutionary Genomics Group, Department of Botany and ZoologyUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyField Museum of Natural HistoryChicagoUSA
  3. 3.VahatraAntananarivo (101)Madagascar
  4. 4.Département de Biologie AnimaleUniversité d’AntananarivoAntananarivo (101)Madagascar
  5. 5.University of Alaska Museum, University of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  6. 6.Centre for Veterinary ScienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  7. 7.Department of Pathology, Cytogenetics LaboratoryUT Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA
  8. 8.The Wellcome Trust Sanger InstituteWellcome Trust Genome CampusCambridgeUK

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