Reversal and convergence in marsupial chromosome evolution Academic Article uri icon


  • The karyotypes of marsupial species are characterized by their relatively low number of chromosomes, and their conservation. Most species have diploid numbers lying between the two modes, 2n = 14 and 2n = 22, but the karyotype of Aepyprymnus rufescens is exceptional in containing 2n = 32 chromosomes. Many differences in diploid number between marsupial species can be accounted for by particular fissions and fusions, which are easy to detect because of the low numbers of chromosomes in each karyotype. This should be a system in which it is possible to detect reversals and repeated chromosome rearrangements. We have used chromosome-specific paints derived from A. RUFESCENS to compare the karyotypes of eight marsupial species, representing closely and distantly related taxa, to trace chromosome change during evolution, and especially to detect reversals and convergence. From these and other painting comparisons, we conclude that there have been at least three reversals of fusions by fissions, and at least three fusions or fissions that have occurred independently in different lineages.


  • Rens, W
  • O’Brien, PCM
  • Fairclough, H
  • Harman, L
  • Graves, JAM
  • Ferguson-Smith, MA

publication date

  • 2003