Chromosome differences in Peromyscus maniculatus populations at different altitudes in Colorado
- 1) Division of Natural and Physical Sciences, University of Colorado at Denver, 110 Fourteenth Street, 80202, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
: Mice of the genus Peromyscus all have 48 chromosomes. Yet the appearance of the 48 chromosomes is highly variable from species to species (Hsu & Arrighi, 1966, 1968, 1971; Pathak et al., 1973) and even in different populations of the same species (Sparkes & Arakaki, 1966; Ohno et al., 1966; Hsu & Arrighi, 1968; Arakaki et al. 1970; Te & Dawson, 1971; Bradshaw & Hsu, 1972; Murray & Kitchin, 1976). The evolutionary significance of this variation and the mechanisms for its initiation and maintenance have been of interest for quite a few years. However, it was not until the sophisticated chromosome banding techniques became available that mammalian cytogeneticists were able to begin to study the chromosome variation of Peromyscus in some detail. The use of C-banding led Hsu & Arrighi (1971) to the finding that the short arms of chromosomes in three different species of Peromyscus contained constitutive heterochromatin. These results suggested that the variations in the number of acrocentric chromosomes in Peromyscus might be a result of different amounts of heterochromatin. Later studies (Duffey, 1972; Waterbury, 1972; and Pathak et al., 1973) were also consistent with this hypothesis. However, it was soon discovered that not all chromosomal differences among Peromyscus populations are due to heterochromatin changes. Studies by Arighi et al. (1976) and Murray & Kitchin (1976) showed that some chromosomal differences between species and subspecies of Peromyscus are due to pericentric inversions. Thus, it appears that both inversions and the addition of heterochromatin are involved in the evolution of the karyotype of Peromyscus. The purpose of our study was to investigate the chromosomes of Peromyscus maniculatus in different populations in Colorado (U.S.A.) and to test for relationships involving an altitudinal gradient. In the first part of this study, orcein stained chromosomes from three subspecies of mice sampled at nine different altitudes were examined for karyotype variability. In the second part of the study, karyotypes of two subspecies (P. m. rufinus and P. m. luteus), representing high and low altitude populations were examined with Q banding to determine the mechanisms responsible for chromosomal differences.
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