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Slow evolving satellite DNAs: the case of a centromeric satellite in Chalcides ocellatus (Forskål, 1775) (Reptilia, Scincidae)

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image of Amphibia-Reptilia

Satellite DNAs represent a preponderant portion of eukaryotic genomes, and despite the ample literature on satDNAs of eukaryotes little is known about these repetitive elements in reptiles. Studies on reptiles satellite DNAs have been mainly focused on lacertid lizards and only one aimed at characterising these repetitive elements in skinks. Here, the isolation and characterisation of a satellite DNA in two populations of the ocellated skink, Chalcides ocellatus (Forskål, 1775), is presented. The repetitive element isolated is located at centromeres of all chromosomes of the complement, shows a tendency towards AT enrichment (53.5%), and contains short motifs that are common in centromeric satellites of eukaryotes (TG/CA, GAAA). The satellite shows an extremely low evolutionary rate (0.13% per million year) that make it unsuitable as a phylogenetic probe to assess the genetic differentiation of the populations investigated, that show a deep genetic divergence at mitochondrial level. The influence of satellite location on chromosomes and chromosomal morphology are invoked to explain this unusually slow mutation rate.

Affiliations: 1: 1Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell’Ambiente, Università Politecnica delle Marche, via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona, Italy


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