, Volume 89, Issue 3, pp 169–185 | Cite as

Chromosome 1 in crested and marbled newts (Triturus)

An extraordinary case of heteromorphism and independent chromosome evolution
  • Simon H. Sims
  • Herbert C. Macgregor
  • Patricia S. Pellatt
  • Heather A. Horner


The heteromorphic chromosomes 1 of Triturus cristatus carnifex and T. marmoratus were studied in mitotic metaphase after staining with the Giemsa C-banding technique and with the fluorochromes, DAPI (AT-specific) and mithramycin (GC-specific). They were also examined in the lampbrush form under phase-contrast before fixation and after fixation and staining with Giemsa. Chromosomes 1 of T.c. carnifex are asynaptic and achiasmatic throughout most of their long arms. They are also heteromorphic in most of their long arms for the patterns of Giemsa and fluorochrome staining and the distribution of distinctive lampbrush loops. The heteromorphic regions correspond to the regions that are asynaptic and achiasmatic. They stain more strongly with mithramycin and more weakly with DAPI than the remainder of the chromosomes, signifying that their DNA is relatively rich in GC. The patterns of staining with Giemsa and fluorochromes and the distributions of distinctive lateral loops vary from one animal to another in the same species and even in the same population. The asynaptic and achiasmatic regions of chromosomes 1 in T. marmoratus extend throughout the whole of the long arms and well beyond the heterochromatic region. Chiasmata form only in the short arm and occasionally in the short euchromatic segment at the tip of the long arms. The staining patterns of chromosomes 1 in T. marmoratus differ from those in T.c. carnifex although, like carnifex, their DNA is relatively GC-rich. The chromosomes 1 of T. marmoratus are more submetacentric than those of T.c. carnifex. In T. marmoratus chromosome 1B is about 12% shorter than 1A. There is a short paracentric inversion heterozygosity in the long arm of chromosome 1B in T. marmoratus which probably accounts for the lack of chiasmata in the euchromatin that separates the centromere from the start of the heterochromatin. In both carnifex and marmoratus, embryos that are homomorphic for chromosome 1 arrest and die at the late tailbud stage of development. The same applies to F1 hybrid embryos T.c. carnifex x T. marmoratus, and this has permitted identification of chromosomes 1A and 1B in both species. There is no correspondence between patterns of Giemsa or fluorochrome staining of the heteromorphic regions of chromosome 1 and any feature of the lampbrush chromosomes. However, the short euchromatic ends of the long arms of chromosomes 1 in both species are distinguished in the lampbrush form by a series of uniformly small loops of fine texture associated with very small chromomeres. The Giemsa C-staining patterns of both chromosomes 1A and 1B are different in each of the four subspecies of T. cristatus. T.c. karelinii stands out by having unusually large masses of Giemsa C-staining centromeric heterochromatin on all but 1 of its 12 chromosomes. A scheme is proposed for the evolution of chromosome 1 in T. cristatus and T. marmoratus, based on all available cytological and molecular data.


Mithramycin Lampbrush Chromosome Paracentric Inversion Tailbud Stage Heteromorphic Chromosome 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon H. Sims
    • 1
  • Herbert C. Macgregor
    • 1
  • Patricia S. Pellatt
    • 1
  • Heather A. Horner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterEngland

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