Highly Differentiated ZW Sex Microchromosomes in the Australian Varanus Species Evolved through Rapid Amplification of Repetitive Sequences

Kazumi MATSUBARA, Stephen SARRE, Arthur GEORGES, Yoichi Matsuda, Jennifer Graves, Tariq EZAZ

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


Transitions between sex determination systems have occurred in many lineages of squamates and it follows that novel sex chromosomes will also have arisen multiple times. The formation of sex chromosomes may be reinforced by inhibition of recombination and the accumulation of repetitive DNA sequences. The karyotypes of monitor lizards are known to be highly conserved yet the sex chromosomes in this family have not been fully investigated. Here, we compare male and female karyotypes of three Australian monitor lizards, Varanus acanthurus, V. gouldii and V. rosenbergi, from two different clades. V. acanthurus belongs to the acanthurus clade and the other two belong to the gouldii clade. We applied C-banding and comparative genomic hybridization to reveal that these species have ZZ/ZW sex micro-chromosomes in which the W chromosome is highly differentiated from the Z chromosome. In combination with previous reports, all six Varanus species in which sex chromosomes have been identified have ZZ/ZW sex chromosomes, spanning several clades on the varanid phylogeny, making it likely that the ZZ/ZW sex chromosome is ancestral for this family. However, repetitive sequences of these ZW chromosome pairs differed among species. In particular, an (AAT)n microsatellite repeat motif mapped by fluorescence in situ hybridization on part of W chromosome in V. acanthurus only, whereas a (CGG)n motif mapped onto the W chromosomes of V. gouldii and V. rosenbergi. Furthermore, the W chromosome probe for V. acanthurus produced hybridization signals only on the centromeric regions of W chromosomes of the other two species. These results suggest that the W chromosome sequences were not conserved between gouldii and acanthurus clades and that these repetitive sequences have been amplified rapidly and independently on the W chromosome of the two clades after their divergence.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere95226
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Highly Differentiated ZW Sex Microchromosomes in the Australian Varanus Species Evolved through Rapid Amplification of Repetitive Sequences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this