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Comparative analysis of karyotypes in the japanese mustelids mustela nivalis namiyei and mustela erminea nippon

Comparative analysis of karyotypes in the japanese mustelids mustela nivalis namiyei and mustela erminea nippon

Journal of the Mammalogical Society of Japan 9(2): 59-69

Chromosomes of 2 closely related species of mustelids, M. n. namiyei and M. e. nippon, were studied by G- and C-banding techniques. Remarkable dissimilarities in the chromosome constitution as well as in the chromosome numbers were found: the former, the Japanese least weasel, has 38 chromosomes containing 6 pairs of large metacentrics; the latter, the Japanese ermine, has 44 chromosomes, lacking such large metacentrics. Of these large metacentrics, 5 pairs carry large blocks of C-heterochromatin on their short arms. In both species, a conspicuous secondary constriction was detected on the juxtacentromeric region of 1 of the small acrocentrics; from the AgI-staining this was regarded as a nucleolus organizer region. On the basis of the chromosome size and arm ratio, all of the ermine's chromosomes could be paired correspondingly with the least weasel's chromosomes, exclusive of the large C-heterochromatin blocks. The total chromosome length (TCL) of the least weasel is estimated to be .apprx. 22.4% longer than that of the ermine; the former has fewer chromosomes. The discrepancy in the TCL corresponded to the total length of the large C-band blocks (i.e., homogeneously faintly stained G-negative regions) of the least weasel. Based on the statistical analysis of the ratio of the length of the X-chromosome to TCL, the karyological relationship between the 2 mustelid species studied could be explained by the duplicating growth of C-heterochromatin, translocation and Robertsonian fusion. Probable mechanisms of karyotype evolution in the Japanese mustelids are briefly discussed.

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Accession: 004991478

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