Background: Although Tellinidae is one of the largest and most diverse families of bivalves, its taxonomy is utterly chaotic. This is mainly due to the morphological diversity and homoplasy displayed by their shells and to the scarcity of the molecular phylogenetic studies performed on them. A molecular cytogenetic analysis of four tellin shell species, Bosemprella incarnata, Macomangulus tenuis, Moerella donacina and Serratina serrata, was performed. To molecularly characterize the analyzed specimens, the sequence of a fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) was also studied.
Results: The karyotypes of the four species were composed of different amounts of bi-armed and telocentric chromosomes. The chromosomal mapping of 45S and 5S rDNA and H3 histone gene clusters by fluorescent in situ hybridization also revealed conspicuous differences on the distribution of these DNA sequences on their karyotypes. Vertebrate type telomeric sequences were located solely on both ends of each chromosome in all four tellin shells.
Conclusion: We present clear evidence of the valuable information provided by FISH signals in both analyzing chromosome evolution in Tellinidae and as a further tool in identifying tellin shell specimens for molecular phylogenies.
Keywords: Chromosome; Fluorescent in situ hybridization; Histone genes; Ribosomal RNA genes; Tellin shells.