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Comparative Study
, 16 (8), 1215-31

Chromosome Painting Shows That Skunks (Mephitidae, Carnivora) Have Highly Rearranged Karyotypes

Comparative Study

Chromosome Painting Shows That Skunks (Mephitidae, Carnivora) Have Highly Rearranged Karyotypes

P L Perelman et al. Chromosome Res.


The karyotypic relationships of skunks (Mephitidae) with other major clades of carnivores are not yet established. Here, multi-directional chromosome painting was used to reveal the karyological relationships among skunks and between Mephitidae (skunks) and Procyonidae (raccoons). Representative species from three genera of Mephitidae (Mephitis mephitis, 2n = 50; Mephitis macroura, 2n = 50; Conepatus leuconotus, 2n = 46; Spilogale gracilis, 2n = 60) and one species of Procyonidae (Procyon lotor, 2n = 38) were studied. Chromosomal homology was mapped by hybridization of five sets of whole-chromosome paints derived from stone marten (Martes foina, 2n = 38), cat, skunks (M. mephitis; M. macroura) and human. The karyotype of the raccoon is highly conserved and identical to the hypothetical ancestral musteloid karyotype, suggesting that procyonids have a particular importance for establishing the karyological evolution within the caniforms. Ten fission events and five fusion events are necessary to generate the ancestral skunk karyotype from the ancestral carnivore karyotype. Our results show that Mephitidae joins Canidae and Ursidae as the third family of carnivores that are characterized by a high rate of karyotype evolution. Shared derived chromosomal fusion of stone marten chromosomes 6 and 14 phylogenetically links the American hog-nosed skunk and eastern spotted skunk.

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