Chromosome evolution in kangaroos (Marsupialia: Macropodidae): Cross species chromosome painting between the tammar wallaby and rock wallaby spp. with the 2n = 22 ancestral macropodid karyotype Academic Article uri icon


  • Marsupial mammals show extraordinary karyotype stability, with 2n = 14 considered ancestral. However, macropodid marsupials (kangaroos and wallabies) exhibit a considerable variety of karyotypes, with a hypothesised ancestral karyotype of 2n = 22. Speciation and karyotypic diversity in rock wallabies (Petrogale) is exceptional. We used cross species chromosome painting to examine the chromosome evolution between the tammar wallaby (2n = 16) and three 2n = 22 rock wallaby species groups with the putative ancestral karyotype. Hybridization of chromosome paints prepared from flow sorted chromosomes of the tammar wallaby to Petrogale spp., showed that this ancestral karyotype is largely conserved among 2n = 22 rock wallaby species, and confirmed the identity of ancestral chromosomes which fused to produce the bi-armed chromosomes of the 2n = 16 tammar wallaby. These results illustrate the fission-fusion process of karyotype evolution characteristic of the kangaroo group.


  • O'Neill, RJ Waugh
  • Eldridge, MDB
  • Toder, R
  • Ferguson-Smith, MA
  • O'Brien, PC
  • Graves, JAM

publication date

  • June 1999

published in