The stickleback family (Gasterosteidae) of fish is less than 40 million years old, yet stickleback species have diverged in both diploid chromosome number (2n) and morphology. We used comparative fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on 2 stickleback species, Gasterosteus aculeatus (2n = 42) and Apeltes quadracus (2n = 46), to ascertain the types of chromosome rearrangements that differentiate these species. The A. quadracus karyotype contains more acrocentric and telocentric chromosomes than the G. aculeatus karyotype. By using bacterial artificial chromosome probes from G. aculeatus in our FISH screen, we found that 6 pericentric inversions and 2 chromosome fusions/fissions are responsible for the greater number of acrocentric and telocentric chromosomes in A. quadracus. While most populations of G. aculeatus have an XX/XY sex chromosome system, A. quadracus has a ZZ/ZW sex chromosome system, as previously reported. However, we discovered that a population of A. quadracus from Connecticut lacks heteromorphic sex chromosomes, providing evidence for unexpected sex chromosome diversity in this species.
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