The distribution of B chromosomes across species

B. G. Palestis, R. Trivers, Austin Burt, R. Neil Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

In this review we look at the broad picture of how B chromosomes are distributed across a wide range of species. We review recent studies of the factors associated with the presence of Bs across species, and provide new analyses with updated data and additional variables. The major obstacle facing comparative studies of B chromosome distribution is variation among species in the intensity of cytogenetic study. Because Bs are, by definition, not present in all individuals of a species, they may often be overlooked in species that are rarely studied. We give examples of corrections for differences in study effort, and show that after a variety of such corrections, strong correlations remain. Several major biological factors are associated with the presence of B chromosomes. Among flowering plants, Bs are more likely to occur in outcrossing than in inbred species, and their presence is also positively correlated with genome size and negatively with chromosome number. They are no more frequent in polyploids than in diploids, nor in species with multiple ploidies. Among mammals, Bs are more likely to occur in species with karyotypes consisting of mostly acrocentric chromosomes. We find no evidence for an association with chromosome number or genome size in mammals, although the sample for genome size is small. The associations with breeding system and acrocentric chromosomes were both predicted in advance, but those with genome size and chromosome number were discovered empirically and we can offer only tentative explanations for the very strong associations we have uncovered. Our understanding of why B chromosomes are present in some species and absent in others is still in its infancy, and we suggest several potential avenues for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-4
Number of pages3
JournalCytogenetic and Genome Research
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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