The Karyotype of Microsternarchus aff. bilineatus: A First Case of Y Chromosome Degeneration in Gymnotiformes

Zebrafish. 2017 Jun;14(3):244-250. doi: 10.1089/zeb.2016.1383. Epub 2017 Mar 6.


Various species and lineages that until recently were identified as Microsternarchus bilineatus (Hypopomidae, Gymnotiformes) have a widespread distribution in the Amazon and Orinoco River basins and across the Guiana shield. Recent molecular studies show five distinct lineages for Microsternarchus from different localities. These results suggest that this previously monotypic genus actually consists of more than one species. Here, we describe the karyotype of M. aff. bilineatus from the Cururutuia River (Bragança, Pará, Brazil). The diploid number of 48 chromosomes (14 meta-submetacentric/34 subtelo-acrocentric) is found for males and females, with an XX/XY sex chromosome system. The nucleolar organizer region is found in the short arm of pair 9. Constitutive heterochromatin occurs in the pericentromeric region of all chromosomes, in the distal region of 3p, 5p, 7p, 8q, 9q, 16q, and Xq, in the interstitial region in 2p, 10q, 11q, and 12q and all along 4p, and in a large block of the Y chromosome. These results indicate extensive karyotype divergence between this population and samples from Igarapé Tarumã Grande (Negro River, Amazonas, Brazil) studied by other researchers. Moreover, despite the diversity of sex chromosome systems found in Gymnotiformes, the XX/XY sex chromosome system of M. aff. bilineatus is the first case of Y chromosome degeneration in this order. The present data are valuable to help understand karyotype evolution in Hypopomidae.

Keywords: karyotype evolution; neotropical electric fish; sex chromosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Female
  • Gymnotiformes / genetics*
  • Karyotype
  • Karyotyping / methods
  • Karyotyping / veterinary
  • Male
  • Phylogeny
  • Y Chromosome / metabolism*