Patterns of chromosomal evolution in Sigmodon, evidence from whole chromosome paints

V. J. Swier, R. D. Bradley, W. Rens, F. F.B. Elder, R. J. Baker

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Of the superfamily Muroidea (31 genera, 1578 species), the Sigmodontinae (74 genera, 377 species) is the second largest subfamily in number of species and represents a significant radiation of rodent biodiversity. Only 2 of the 74 genera are found in both North and South America (Sigmodon and Oryzomys) and the remainder are exclusively from South America. In recent molecular studies, the genus Sigmodon (Cricetidae, Sigmodontinae) has been considered sister to many other South American Sigmodontines [Steppan et al., 2004]. We examine the chromosomal evolution of 9 species of Sigmodon utilizing chromosomal paints isolated from S. hispidus, proposed to be similar to the ancestral karyotype [Elder, 1980]. Utilizing a phylogenetic hypothesis of a molecular phylogeny of Sigmodon [Henson and Bradley, 2009], we mapped shared chromosomal rearrangements of taxa on a molecular tree to estimate the evolutionary position of each rearrangement. For several species (S. hirsutus, S. leucotis, S. ochrognathus, S. peruanus, and S. toltecus), the karyotype accumulated few or no changes, but in three species (S. arizonae, S. fulviventer, and S. mascotensis) numerous karyotype rearrangements were observed. These rearrangements involved heterochromatic additions, centric fusions, tandem fusions, pericentric inversions, as well as the addition of interstitial DNA not identified by chromosome paints or C-banding. The hypothesis that the ancestral karyotype for this complex had a diploid number of 52, a fundamental number of 52, and a G-band pattern of which most, if not all are similar to that present in modern day S. hispidus fails to be rejected. This hypothesis remains viable as an explanation of chromosomal evolution in Sigmodontine rodents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-66
Number of pages13
JournalCytogenetic and Genome Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Ancestral karyotype
  • Comparative cytogenetics
  • DAPI banding
  • Karyotype conservation
  • Muroid rodents
  • Phylogeny
  • Sigmodontinae
  • Tandem fusions


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