Intriguing evidence of translocations in Discus fish (Symphysodon, Cichlidae) and a report of the largest meiotic chromosomal chain observed in vertebrates

Heredity (Edinb). 2009 May;102(5):435-41. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2009.3. Epub 2009 Feb 25.


As part of a program to understand the genetics of Amazonian ornamental fish, classical cytogenetics was used to analyze Symphysodon aequifasciatus, S. discus and S. haraldi, popular and expensive aquarium fishes that are endemic to the Amazon basin. Mitotic analyses in Symphysodon have shown some odd patterns compared with other Neotropical cichlids. We have confirmed that Symphysodon species are characterized by chromosomal diversity and meiotic complexity despite the fact that species share the same diploid number 2n=60. An intriguing meiotic chromosomal chain, with up to 20 elements during diplotene/diakinesis, was observed in S. aequifasciatus and S. haraldi, whereas S. discus only contains typical bivalent chromosomes. Such chromosomal chains with a high number of elements have not been observed in any other vertebrates. We showed that the meiotic chromosomal chain was not sex related. This observation is unusual and we propose that the origin of meiotic multiples in males and females is based on a series of translocations that involved heterochromatic regions after hybridization of ancestor wild Discus species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes / genetics*
  • Cichlids / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Male
  • Meiosis*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Translocation, Genetic*
  • Vertebrates / genetics