The karyotypes and evolution of ZZ/ZW sex chromosomes in the genus Characidium (Characiformes, Crenuchidae)

Comp Cytogenet. 2018 Oct 2;12(3):421-438. doi: 10.3897/CompCytogen.v12i3.28736. eCollection 2018.


Available data on cytotaxonomy of the genus Characidium Reinhardt, 1867, which contains the greatest number of species in the Characidiinae (Crenuchidae), with 64 species widely distributed throughout the Neotropical region, were summarized and reviewed. Most Characidium species have uniform diploid chromosome number (2n) = 50 and karyotype with 32 metacentric (m) and 18 submetacentric (sm) chromosomes. The maintenance of the 2n and karyotypic formula in Characidium implies that their genomes did not experience large chromosomal rearrangements during species diversification. In contrast, the internal chromosomal organization shows a dynamic differentiation among their genomes. Available data indicated the role of repeated DNA sequences in the chromosomal constitution of the Characidium species, particularly, in sex chromosome differentiation. Karyotypes of the most Characidium species exhibit a heteromorphic ZZ/ZW sex chromosome system. The W chromosome is characterized by high rates of repetitive DNA accumulation, including satellite, microsatellite, and transposable elements (TEs), with a varied degree of diversification among species. In the current review, the main Characidium cytogenetic data are presented, highlighting the major features of its karyotype and sex chromosome evolution. Despite the conserved karyotypic macrostructure with prevalent 2n = 50 chromosomes in Characidium, herein we grouped the main cytogenetic information which led to chromosomal diversification in this Neotropical fish group.

Keywords: Chromosomal differentiation; Cryptic species; Repetitive DNA; Speciation genes.

Publication types

  • Review