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Whole chromosome painting reveals independent origin of sex chromosomes in closely related forms of a fish species

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The wolf fish Hoplias malabaricus includes well differentiated sex systems (XY and X1X2Y in karyomorphs B and D, respectively), a nascent XY pair (karyomorph C) and not recognized sex chromosomes (karyomorph A). We performed the evolutionary analysis of these sex chromosomes, using two X chromosome-specific probes derived by microdissection from the XY and X1X2Y sex systems. A putative-sex pair in karyomorph A was identified, from which the differentiated XY system was evolved, as well as the clearly evolutionary relationship between the nascent XY system and the origin of the multiple X1X2Y chromosomes. The lack of recognizable signals on the sex chromosomes after the reciprocal cross-FISH experiments highlighted that they evolved independently from non-homologous autosomal pairs. It is noteworthy that these distinct pathways occur inside the same nominal species, thus exposing the high plasticity of sex chromosome evolution in lower vertebrates. Possible mechanisms underlying this sex determination liability are also discussed.

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Diploid number




Deoxyribonucleotide triphosphate


Degenerate oligonucleotide primed PCR


Deoxyuridine triphosphate


Fluorescence in situ hybridization


X chromosome-specific probe

Hm-X1 :

X1 chromosome-specific probe


Sodium Chloride-Sodium Citrate buffer


Phosphate-buffered saline


whole chromosome probe


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This work was supported by the Brazilian agencies FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo), CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) and CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior). and the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología (pr. CGL2009-07754) co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

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Correspondence to Marcelo de Bello Cioffi.

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de Bello Cioffi, M., Sánchez, A., Marchal, J.A. et al. Whole chromosome painting reveals independent origin of sex chromosomes in closely related forms of a fish species. Genetica 139, 1065–1072 (2011).

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