Karyotypic diversity in four species of the genus Gymnotus Linnaeus, 1758 (Teleostei, Gymnotiformes, Gymnotidae): physical mapping of ribosomal genes and telomeric sequences

Comp Cytogenet. 2011 Aug 24;5(3):223-35. doi: 10.3897/CompCytogen.v5i3.1375. eCollection 2011.


Conventional (Giemsa, C-Banding, Ag-NORs, CMA3) and molecular (5S rDNA, 18S rDNA, telomeric sequences) cytogenetic studies were carried out in specimens of ten distinct fish populations of the genus Gymnotus (Gymnotus sylvius Albert and Fernandes-Matioli, 1999, Gymnotus inaequilabiatus Valenciennes, 1839, Gymnotus pantherinus Steindachner, 1908, and G. cf. carapo Linnaeus, 1758) from different Brazilian hydrographic basins. Gymnotus sylvius presented a diploid number of 40 chromosomes (22m+12sm+6st), Gymnotus pantherinus presented 52 chromosomes (32m+18sm+2st), while Gymnotus inaequilabiatus (42m+10sm+2a)and Gymnotus cf. carapo (38m+12sm+4st) presented 54 chromosomes. The C-banding technique revealed centromeric marks in all chromosomes of all species. Besides that, conspicuous blocks of heterochromatin were found interstitially on the chromosomes of Gymnotus inaequilabiatus, Gymnotus cf. carapo,and Gymnotus pantherinus. All four species showed single nucleolus organizing regions confirmed by results obtained through Ag-NORs and FISH experiments using 18S rDNA probes, which showed the NORs localized on the first chromosome pair in Gymnotus inaequilabiatus, Gymnotus cf. carapo,and Gymnotus pantherinus, and on pair 2 in Gymnotus sylvius. CMA3 staining revealed additional unrelated NORs marks in Gymnotus sylvius and Gymnotus pantherinus. The 5S rDNA probes revealed signals on one pair in Gymnotus sylvius and two pairs in Gymnotus pantherinus; Gymnotus inaequilabiatus had about seventeen pairs marked, and Gymnotus cf. carapo had about fifteen pairs marked. It is considered that the high amount of heterochromatin identified in the chromosomes of Gymnotus inaequilabiatus and Gymnotus cf. carapo could have facilitated the dispersion of 5S rDNA in these species. Interstitial signals were detected on the first metacentric pair of Gymnotus sylvius by telomeric probes (TTAGGG)n indicating the possible occurrence of chromosomal fusions in this species. The present study reveals valuable cytotaxonomic markers for this group and allows a more precise evaluation of the processes involved in the karyotype differentiation and the interrelationships among different species of the genus Gymnotus.

Keywords: FISH; chromosomal rearrangements; cytogenetics; heterochromatin; rDNA.