Genome Duplication Events and Functional Reduction of Ploidy Levels in Sturgeon (Acipenser, Huso and Scaphirhynchus)
Arne Ludwig, Natalia M. Belfiore, Christian Pitra, Victor Svirsky, Ingo Jenneckens


Sturgeon (order Acipenserformes) provide an ideal taxonomic context for examination of genome duplication events. Multiple levels of ploidy exist among these fish. In a novel microsatellite approach, data from 962 fish from 20 sturgeon species were used for analysis of ploidy in sturgeon. Allele numbers in a sample of individuals were assessed at six microsatellite loci. Species with ∼120 chromosomes are classified as functional diploid species, species with ∼250 chromosomes as functional tetraploid species, and with ∼500 chromosomes as functional octaploids. A molecular phylogeny of the sturgeon was determined on the basis of sequences of the entire mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. By mapping the estimated levels of ploidy on this proposed phylogeny we demonstrate that (I) polyploidization events independently occurred in the acipenseriform radiation; (II) the process of functional genome reduction is nearly finished in species with ∼120 chromosomes and more active in species with ∼250 chromosomes and ∼500 chromosomes; and (III) species with ∼250 and ∼500 chromosomes arose more recently than those with ∼120 chromosomes. These results suggest that gene silencing, chromosomal rearrangements, and transposition events played an important role in the acipenseriform genome formation. Furthermore, this phylogeny is broadly consistent with previous hypotheses but reveals a highly supported oceanic (Atlantic-Pacific) subdivision within the Acipenser/Huso complex.

  • Received January 22, 2001.
  • Accepted April 24, 2001.
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