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Chromosomal mapping of rRNA genes, core histone genes and telomeric sequences in Brachidontes puniceus and Brachidontes rodriguezi (Bivalvia, Mytilidae)

Concepción Pérez-García, Jorge Guerra-Varela, Paloma Morán and Juan J Pasantes*

Author Affiliations

Dpto. Bioquímica, Xenética e Inmunoloxía. Universidade de Vigo. Vigo, Spain

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BMC Genetics 2010, 11:109  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-11-109

Published: 10 December 2010



Chromosome rearrangements are an important part of the speciation process in many taxa. The study of chromosome evolution in bivalves is hampered by the absence of clear chromosomal banding patterns and the similarity in both chromosome size and morphology. For this reason, obtaining good chromosome markers is essential for reliable karyotypic comparisons. To begin this task, the chromosomes of the mussels Brachidontes puniceus and B. rodriguezi were studied by means of fluorochrome staining and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH).


Brachidontes puniceus and B. rodriguezi both have 2n = 32 chromosomes but differing karyotype composition. Vertebrate-type telomeric sequences appear at both ends of every single chromosome. B. puniceus presents a single terminal major rRNA gene cluster on a chromosome pair while B. rodriguezi shows two. Both mussels present two 5S rDNA and two core histone gene clusters intercalary located on the long arms of two chromosome pairs. Double and triple-FISH experiments demonstrated that one of the 5S rDNA and one of the major rDNA clusters appear on the same chromosome pair in B. rodriguezi but not in B. puniceus. On the other hand, the second 5S rDNA cluster is located in one of the chromosome pairs also bearing one of the core histone gene clusters in the two mussel species.


Knowledge of the chromosomal distribution of these sequences in the two species of Brachidontes is a first step in the understanding of the role of chromosome changes on bivalve evolution.