A novel neo-sex chromosome in Sylvietta brachyura (Macrosphenidae) adds to the extraordinary avian sex chromosome diversity among Sylvioidea songbirds

J Evol Biol. 2022 Dec;35(12):1797-1805. doi: 10.1111/jeb.14096. Epub 2022 Sep 26.


We report the discovery of a novel neo-sex chromosome in an African warbler, Sylvietta brachyura (northern crombec; Macrosphenidae). This species is part of the Sylvioidea superfamily, where four separate autosome-sex chromosome translocation events have previously been discovered via comparative genomics of 11 of the 22 families in this clade. Our discovery here resulted from analyses of genomic data of single species-representatives from three additional Sylvioidea families (Macrosphenidae, Pycnonotidae and Leiothrichidae). In all three species, we confirmed the translocation of a part of chromosome 4A to the sex chromosomes, which originated basally in Sylvioidea. In S. brachyura, we found that a part of chromosome 8 has been translocated to the sex chromosomes, forming a unique neo-sex chromosome in this lineage. Furthermore, the non-recombining part of 4A in S. brachyura is smaller than in other Sylvioidea species, which suggests that recombination continued along this region after the fusion event in the Sylvioidea ancestor. These findings reveal additional sex chromosome diversity among the Sylvioidea, where five separate translocation events are now confirmed.

Keywords: Sylvietta brachyura; Northern crombec; Sylvioidea; birds; genomics; sex chromosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brachyura*
  • Genomics
  • Sex Chromosomes / genetics
  • Songbirds* / genetics

Associated data

  • RefSeq/GCF_003957565.1