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Open Access Research article

Cytogenetic studies in Eigenmannia virescens (Sternopygidae, Gymnotiformes) and new inferences on the origin of sex chromosomes in the Eigenmannia genus

Danillo S Silva, Susana SR Milhomem, Julio C Pieczarka and Cleusa Y Nagamachi*

Author Affiliations

Laboratório de Citogenética, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal do Pará, Avenida Perimetral, sn Guamá. Belém, Pará, 66075-900, Brazil

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BMC Genetics 2009, 10:74  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-10-74

Published: 21 November 2009



Cytogenetic studies were carried out on samples of Eigenmannia virescens (Sternopygidae, Gymnotiformes) obtained from four river systems of the Eastern Amazon region (Para, Brazil).


All four populations had 2n = 38, with ZZ/ZW sex chromosomes (Z, acrocentric; W, submetacentric). Constitutive heterochromatin (CH) was found at the centromeric regions of all chromosomes. The W chromosome had a heterochromatic block in the proximal region of the short arm; this CH was positive for DAPI staining, indicating that it is rich in A-T base pairs. The nucleolar organizer region (NOR) was localized to the short arm of chromosome pair 15; this result was confirmed by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) with human 45S rDNA, and CMA3 staining indicated that the region is G-C rich. FISH with telomeric probes did not show any evidence of interstitial telomeric sequences (ITS).


Previous studies have shown that the species Eigenmannia sp. 2 and E. virescens have differentiated sex chromosomes, and diverse sex chromosome systems have been described for E. virescens specimens obtained from different Brazilian rivers. A comparative analysis of the present data and prior reports suggests that the sex chromosomes of Eigenmannia may have arisen independently in the different populations.