Chromosome Research

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 333–343 | Cite as

Distribution of CR1-like transposable element in woodpeckers (Aves Piciformes): Z sex chromosomes can act as a refuge for transposable elements

  • Natasha Avila BertocchiEmail author
  • Thays Duarte de Oliveira
  • Analía del Valle Garnero
  • Rafael Luiz Buogo Coan
  • Ricardo José Gunski
  • Cesar Martins
  • Fabiano Pimentel Torres
Original Article


Birds have relatively few repetitive sequences compared to other groups of vertebrates; however, the members of order Piciformes (woodpeckers) have more of these sequences, composed mainly of transposable elements (TE). The TE most often found in birds is a retrotransposon chicken repeat 1 (CR1). Piciformes lineages were subjected to an expansion of the CR1 elements, carrying a larger fraction of transposable elements. This study compared patterns of chromosome distribution among five bird species, through chromosome mapping of the CR1 sequence and reconstructed their phylogenetic tree. We analyzed several members of Piciformes (Colaptes campestris, Colaptes melanochloros, Melanerpes candidus, and Veniliornis spilogaster), as well as Galliformes (Gallus gallus). Gallus gallus is the species with which most genomic and hence cytogenetic studies have been performed. The results showed that CR1 sequences are a monophyletic group and do not depend on their hosts. All species analyzed showed a hybridization signal by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). In all species, the chromosomal distribution of CR1 was not restricted to heterochromatin regions in the macrochromosomes, principally pair 1 and the Z sex chromosome. Accumulation in the Z sex chromosomes can serve as a refuge for transposable elements. These results highlight the importance of transposable elements in host genomes and karyotype evolution.


Retrotransposon Birds Genomes Genome organization FISH Sex chromosomes 



Colaptes campestris


Colaptes melanochloros


Chicken repeat 1


Fluorescent in situ hybridization


Gallus gallus


Long interspersed nucleotide elements


Melanerpes candidus


Open reading frames


Polymerase chain reaction


Picoides pubescens


Reverse transcriptase


Transposable elements


Veniliornis spilogaster



The authors are grateful to Dr. Rafael Kretschmer for his inspiring comments on the manuscript and to the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments to improve the manuscript.

Author’s contribution

NAB and TDO conceived, designed research most of the experiments and contributed to the interpretation of results. NAB and TDO wrote the manuscript. NAB and RLBC did the in silico experiments. AVG and FPT supervised the project. NAB, TDO, RJG, AVG, CM and FPT performed research. NAB and TDO contributed equal. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Funding information

CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior), and CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) provided financial support.

Compliance with ethical standards

The experiments followed protocols approved by the Ethics Committee on the Use of Animals (CEUA – Universidade Federal do Pampa, 026/2012).

Supplementary material

10577_2018_9592_MOESM1_ESM.xls (54 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 (XLS 54 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natasha Avila Bertocchi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thays Duarte de Oliveira
    • 2
  • Analía del Valle Garnero
    • 3
    • 4
  • Rafael Luiz Buogo Coan
    • 5
  • Ricardo José Gunski
    • 3
    • 4
  • Cesar Martins
    • 5
  • Fabiano Pimentel Torres
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-graduação em Genética e Biologia MolecularUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)Porto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-graduação em Biologia AnimalUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)Porto AlegreBrazil
  3. 3.Programa de Pós-graduação em Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal do Pampa (Unipampa)São GabrielBrazil
  4. 4.Laboratório de Diversidade Genética AnimalUniversidade Federal do Pampa (Unipampa)São GabrielBrazil
  5. 5.Departamento de Morfologia, Laboratório Genômica IntegrativaUniversidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP)BotucatuBrazil

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