The karyotype and chromosomal characteristics of Apteronotus albifrons and Apteronotus caudimaculosus collected from populations of two different large Brazilian river basins were analyzed by conventional and molecular cytogenetic techniques, to contribute to the differentiation and identification of the species in this genus. The diploid chromosome number was 2n = 24 for A. albifrons, but with difference in the karyotype structure and fundamental number values between two populations under study. In A. caudimaculosus, the diploid chromosome number was 2n = 26, which was classified as 22 metacentric (m), 2 submetacentric (sm), and 2 acrocentric (a) chromosomes. Heterochromatins were preferentially located in pericentromeric regions for both species. However, there are more C-banded chromosomes in A. caudimaculosus than A. albifrons. The sites of 18S DNA as revealed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) in the karyotypes of both species corresponded to sites revealed by Ag impregnation, although some additional 18S rDNA sites were observed in the genome of A. caudimaculosus. FISH with 5S rDNA-probe revealed interstitial sites on the m pair No. 1 for individuals of both A. albifrons populations, and in pericentromeric regions on the long arm of pair Nos. 5 and 9 in those of A. caudimaculosus. The karyotypes of A. albifrons and A. caudimaculosus indicated a reduction of 2n resulting from chromosomal fusion, as could be hypothesized from the presence of an interstitial telomere sequence in two chromosome pairs in karyotype of A. caudimaculosus. Thus, the present study demonstrated species-specific cytogenetic markers of otherwise morphologically very similar species A. albifrons and A. caudimaculosus.
Keywords: FISH; ITS; chromosome banding; fish cytotaxonomy; karyotype evolution; rDNA.