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A comparative chromosome study of twenty killifish species of the genus Fundulus (Teleostei: Cyprinodontidae)


Female karyotypes from ovarian cell cultures of 20 species of killifish (Fundulus) ranged in diploid number from 32 to 48, but in arm number (NF) from 48 to 52. The “small” F chromosomes, which constituted the fundamental elements in the karyotype, were evenly graded in length. The “large” biarmed chromosomes (L), which were about twice the length of the average Fs, characterized only those species with 2N less than 48 chromosomes. And among these species, an increase in complement by a pair of L's was always accompanied by a decrease of two pairs of A's, indicating Robertsonian changes by the centric fusion of two A's to form one L chromosome. Other diagnostic chromosome characters included: the number and structure of biarmed and satellited F chromosomes and the percentage of F's with relatively short short-arms (SSA). Besides centric fusion, mechanisms of chromosomal evolution in Fundulus probably included pericentric inversion, producing biarmed F chromosomes from acrocentric F's and partial loss of a chromosome segment producing smaller biarmed F chromosomes from larger ones. The percentage of SSA chromosomes generally decreases from relatively primitive to specialized species. The presumably most primitive species have only SSA type acrocentric F chromosomes. The 20 Fundulus species were classified into 2 major groups according to the percentage of SSA chromosomes: the SSA group, including 3 subgroups, had more than 50% SSA's; the LSA group, including 2 subgroups, had fewer than 50% SSA's. This classification based only on karyotypic characters generally agreed with others based on gross morphological characters. A possible evolutionary scheme is proposed to account for the derived killifish karyotypes.

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Chen, T.R. A comparative chromosome study of twenty killifish species of the genus Fundulus (Teleostei: Cyprinodontidae). Chromosoma 32, 436–453 (1971).

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  • Chromosome Segment
  • Centric Fusion
  • Specialized Species
  • Chromosomal Evolution
  • Diploid Number