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B chromosome ancestry revealed by histone genes in the migratory locust

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Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

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.

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Correspondence to Juan Pedro M. Camacho.

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Communicated by E. Nigg

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Teruel, M., Cabrero, J., Perfectti, F. et al. B chromosome ancestry revealed by histone genes in the migratory locust. Chromosoma 119, 217–225 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00412-009-0251-3

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