Cytogenetic Characterization of a Population of Acanthodactylus lineomaculatus Duméril and Bibron, 1839 (Reptilia, Lacertidae), from Southwestern Morocco and Insights into Sex Chromosome Evolution

Cytogenet Genome Res. 2017;153(2):86-95. doi: 10.1159/000484533. Epub 2017 Nov 29.


Acanthodactylus lineomaculatus is now regarded as an ecotype of A. erythrurus with which it has been recently synonymized. Despite the wide range of A. erythrurus, karyological data for this species are scarce and limited to classical cytogenetic studies carried out in individuals from only 2 locations (central Spain and Spanish enclave of Melilla on the northwestern Mediterranean Moroccan coast). Here, for the first time, we cytogenetically characterized individuals of A. lineomaculatus from the southwestern Moroccan Atlantic coast with the aim to increase the karyological knowledge of this wide-ranging species and to assess if any chromosomal changes can be found in this ecotype in comparison to other populations of this species. The diploid number of the individuals investigated is 2n = 38 which is typical of most lacertids. Active NORs were located telomerically in a medium-small pair of chromosomes, and no inactive NORs were detected. C-banding revealed an intensely heterochromatic W chromosome composed of AT-rich (centromere and long arm telomeric region) and GC-rich (most of the long arm) regions, with extended interstitial telomeric sequences. These telomere-like repeats occupy the GC-rich heterochromatin of the W. The DNA composition of the W represents a trait distinguishing A. lineomaculatus (southwestern Morocco) from A. erythrurus from Spain that possess a DAPI-positive (AT-rich) W chromosome. In conclusion, these results add further evidence to the remarkable karyotype conservation in lacertid lizards, although differences in NOR location and in W chromosome structure among populations could suggest an incipient speciation mediated by chromosome changes in this wide-ranging lizard species.

Keywords: 18S + 28S rDNA; Interstitial telomeric sequences; Sex chromosomes; W chromosome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Nuclear / genetics
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromosome Banding
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Female
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Karyotyping
  • Lizards / genetics*
  • Male
  • Morocco
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 28S / genetics
  • Sex Chromosomes / genetics*
  • Species Specificity


  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 28S
  • nucleolar organizer region associated proteins