Chromosome divergence during evolution of the tetraploid clawed frogs, Xenopus mellotropicalis and Xenopus epitropicalis as revealed by Zoo-FISH
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Whole genome duplication (WGD) generates new species and genomic redundancy. In African clawed frogs of the genus Xenopus, this phenomenon has been especially important in that (i) all but one extant species are polyploid and (ii) whole genome sequences of some species provide an evidence for genomic rearrangements prior to or after WGD. Within Xenopus in the subgenus Silurana, at least one allotetraploidization event gave rise to three extant tetraploid (2n = 4x = 40) species-Xenopus mellotropicalis, X. epitropicalis, and X. calcaratus-but it is not yet clear the degree to which these tetraploid genomes experienced rearrangements prior to or after allotetraploidization. To explore genome evolution during diversification of these species, we performed cytogenetic analyses of X. mellotropicalis, including assessment of the localization of nucleolar organizer region, chromosome banding, and determination of the p/q arm ratios for each chromosome pair. We compared these data to a previously characterized karyotype of X. epitropicalis. Morphometric, C-banding and Zoo-FISH data support a previously hypothesized common allotetraploid predecessor of these species. Zoo-FISH with whole chromosome painting (WCP) probes derived from the closely related diploid species X. tropicalis confirmed the existence of ten chromosomal quartets in X. mellotropicalis somatic cells, as expected by its ploidy level and tetraploid ancestry. The p/q arm ratio of chromosome 2a was found to be substantially different between X. mellotropicalis (0.81) and X. epitropicalis (0.67), but no substantial difference between these two species was detected in this ratio for the homoeologous chromosome pair 2b, or for other chromosome pairs. Additionally, we identified variation between these two species in the locations of a heterochromatic block on chromosome pair 2a. These results are consistent with a dynamic history of genomic rearrangements before and/or after genome duplication, a surprising finding given the otherwise relatively conserved genomic structure of most frogs.