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Cross-species chromosome painting tracks the independent origin of multiple sex chromosomes in two cofamiliar Erythrinidae fishes

Marcelo B Cioffi1*, Antonio Sánchez2, Juan A Marchal2, Nadezda Kosyakova3, Thomas Liehr3, Vladimir Trifonov4 and Luiz AC Bertollo1

Author affiliations

1 Departamento de Genética e Evolução, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, São Carlos, Brazil

2 Departamento de Biología Experimental, Universidad de Jaén, Jaén, Spain

3 Institute of Human Genetics, Jena University Hospital, Jena, Germany

4 Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine, Novosibirsk, Russia

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Citation and License

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:186  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-186

Published: 30 June 2011



The Erythrinidae fish family is characterized by a large variation with respect to diploid chromosome numbers and sex-determining systems among its species, including two multiple X1X2Y sex systems in Hoplias malabaricus and Erythrinus erythrinus. At first, the occurrence of a same sex chromosome system within a family suggests that the sex chromosomes are correlated and originated from ancestral XY chromosomes that were either homomorphic or at an early stage of differentiation. To identify the origin and evolution of these X1X2Y sex chromosomes, we performed reciprocal cross-species FISH experiments with two sex-chromosome-specific probes designed from microdissected X1 and Y chromosomes of H. malabaricus and E. erythrinus, respectively.


Our results yield valuable information regarding the origin and evolution of these sex chromosome systems. Our data indicate that these sex chromosomes evolved independently in these two closed related Erythrinidae species. Different autosomes were first converted into a poorly differentiated XY sex pair in each species, and additional chromosomal rearrangements produced both X1X2Y sex systems that are currently present.


Our data provide new insights into the origin and evolution of sex chromosomes, which increases our knowledge about fish sex chromosome evolution.

chromosome painting; microdissection; fish cytogenetics; sex chromosome evolution; Erythrinidae fish