Cytogenetic and molecular characterization of the Abies alba genome and its relationship with other members of the Pinaceae

Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2008 Mar;10(2):256-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1438-8677.2007.00018.x.


Genome size, karyotype structure, heterochromatin distribution, position and number of ribosomal genes, as well as the ITS2 sequence of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) were analysed in silver fir (Abies alba Mill.). The analysis also included characterization of the Arabidopsis-type of telomeric repeats in silver fir and in related species. The results were compared with results from other species of the Pinaceae, to evaluate phylogeny and chromosomal and molecular evolution in the Pinaceae. Integrated chromosomal data provided insights into chromosome and karyotype evolution in the Pinaceae. The evolutionary trend for GC-rich heterochromatic blocks seems to involve loss of blocks that are not associated with rDNA. Similarly, numerous large blocks of interstitial plant telomeric repeats that are typical for all analysed species of the genus Pinus were not observed in the evolutionarily younger genera, such as Abies, Picea and Larix. On the contrary, the majority of telomeric sequences in these three genera appeared confined to the chromosome ends. We confirmed the current position of Abies and Tsuga in subfamily Abietoideae and the position of Pinus in the subfamily Pinoideae based on ITS2 sequences. Pseudotsuga is placed together with Larix into the subfamily Laricoideae. We conclude that the current position of the genus Picea in the subfamily Abietoideae should be reconsidered and, possibly, the genus Picea should be reclassified as a separate subfamily, Piceoideae, as recently proposed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abies / classification
  • Abies / genetics*
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genome, Plant*
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Karyotyping
  • Phylogeny
  • Picea / classification
  • Picea / genetics
  • Pinaceae / classification
  • Pinaceae / genetics*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 5.8S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 5S / genetics


  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 5.8S
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 5S