Molecular cytogenetic studies in western Mediterranean Juniperus (Cupressaceae): a constant model of GC-rich chromosomal regions and rDNA loci with evidences for paleopolyploidy

  • Joan Vallès
  • Teresa Garnatje
  • Odile Robin
  • Sonja Siljak-Yakovlev
Short Communication
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Evolution


We carried out the first cytogenetic characterisation of Mediterranean species of Juniperus (Cupressaceae); to date, nuclear DNA amount and chromosome numbers were known, but a fine karyotype analysis had been only done in three eastern Asian taxa. We performed chromomycin A3 banding, for the first time in the family, and fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) in order to detect 18S-5.8S-26S (also termed 35S and 45S) rRNA genes in five species of the genus, four diploid (Juniperus communis, Juniperus oxycedrus, Juniperus phoenicea and Juniperus sabina) and the only Mediterranean one that is exclusively tetraploid (Juniperus thurifera). The results show a very homogeneous pattern, with one chromosome pair with chromomycin-positive bands at the secondary constrictions and colocalised 35S rDNA signals. In diploid species, this model agrees with that of the two Asian taxa previously investigated with FISH. In the tetraploid species, conversely, the results are different: in the Asian taxa, signal number and location are exactly double in tetraploid than in diploid taxa, whereas in our case, the tetraploid species bears the same number of signals (not twice) as diploid ones. This fact can be interpreted as accounting for the age of polyploidy in J. thurifera: after the polyploidisation event and the stabilisation of the doubled genome, there has been time left for genome rearrangements implying a loss of GC-rich chromatin and one of the rDNA loci; this argument is a support for the ancient and relict character attributed to this taxon.


FISH Fluorochrome banding Gymnosperms Juniperus Karyotype Mediterranean area Polyploidy 



Miquel Veny (Institut Botànic de Barcelona) is thanked for taking cure of the living plants collection, and Samuel Pyke (Jardí Botànic de Barcelona) for the revision of the English text. The collaboration of the Proyecto Forestal Ibérico forest tree nursery is acknowledged. This work has been subsidised by Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spanish government, Spain (projects CGL2010-22234-C02-01 and 02/BOS, CGL2013-49097-C2-2-P), Generalitat de Catalunya-Catalan government, Catalonia (2009/SGR/00439, 2014/SGR/514) and funds from CNRS and Université de Paris-Sud (Orsay). JV received a grant (2012BE100508) from AGAUR (Catalan government’s agency for university and research grants) for a research stay in the Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique, Evolution, Université Paris-Sud at Orsay, in the frame of a sabbatical semester attributed to him by the Universitat de Barcelona.

Data archiving statement

FISH data are available at Plant rDNA database (


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan Vallès
    • 1
  • Teresa Garnatje
    • 2
  • Odile Robin
    • 3
  • Sonja Siljak-Yakovlev
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratori de Botànica-Unitat Associada CSIC, Facultat de FarmàciaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Institut Botànic de Barcelona (IBB-CSIC-ICUB)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Université de Paris-Sud, Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique, Evolution, UMR CNRS 8079Orsay CedexFrance

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