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. 2007 Jan 23;7:6.
doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-7-6.

Chromosome Painting in the Manatee Supports Afrotheria and Paenungulata

Free PMC article

Chromosome Painting in the Manatee Supports Afrotheria and Paenungulata

Margaret E Kellogg et al. BMC Evol Biol. .
Free PMC article


Background: Sirenia (manatees, dugongs and Stellar's sea cow) have no evolutionary relationship with other marine mammals, despite similarities in adaptations and body shape. Recent phylogenomic results place Sirenia in Afrotheria and with elephants and rock hyraxes in Paenungulata. Sirenia and Hyracoidea are the two afrotherian orders as yet unstudied by comparative molecular cytogenetics. Here we report on the chromosome painting of the Florida manatee.

Results: The human autosomal and X chromosome paints delimited a total of 44 homologous segments in the manatee genome. The synteny of nine of the 22 human autosomal chromosomes (4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 14, 17, 18 and 20) and the X chromosome were found intact in the manatee. The syntenies of other human chromosomes were disrupted in the manatee genome into two to five segments. The hybridization pattern revealed that 20 (15 unique) associations of human chromosome segments are found in the manatee genome: 1/15, 1/19, 2/3 (twice), 3/7 (twice), 3/13, 3/21, 5/21, 7/16, 8/22, 10/12 (twice), 11/20, 12/22 (three times), 14/15, 16/19 and 18/19.

Conclusion: There are five derived chromosome traits that strongly link elephants with manatees in Tethytheria and give implicit support to Paenungulata: the associations 2/3, 3/13, 8/22, 18/19 and the loss of the ancestral eutherian 4/8 association. It would be useful to test these conclusions with chromosome painting in hyraxes. The manatee chromosome painting data confirm that the associations 1/19 and 5/21 phylogenetically link afrotherian species and show that Afrotheria is a natural clade. The association 10/12/22 is also ubiquitous in Afrotheria (clade I), present in Laurasiatheria (clade IV), only partially present in Xenarthra (10/12, clade II) and absent in Euarchontoglires (clade III). If Afrotheria is basal to eutherians, this association could be part of the ancestral eutherian karyotype. If afrotherians are not at the root of the eutherian tree, then the 10/12/22 association could be one of a suite of derived associations linking afrotherian taxa.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Examples of hybridizations in the manatee a) human 12, b) human 13, c) human 14 in green and 15 in red d) human 17 in green and 18 in red.
Figure 2
Figure 2
The karyotype of the manatee is shown to the left and the color coded idiogram to the right (modified from Gray et al. 2002). Manatee chromosomes are numbered below and human chromosome homology is shown laterally.

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