Genealogical relationships of southern Ontario polyploid unisexual salamanders (genus Ambystoma) inferred from intergenomic exchanges and major rDNA cytotypes
North American unisexual salamanders in the genus Ambystoma are common around the Great Lakes region of North America. They contain an almost identical mitochondrial genome across their distribution that is unlike that of any of the four species whose genomes may be included in their nuclei. Thus, sequence-based phylogenies of unisexual populations are confusing. We used chromosomal intergenomic exchanges and major rDNA cytotypes as combined cytogenetic markers to tentatively construct a genealogy of unisexual Ambystoma in southern Ontario. We employed GISH and sequential/simultaneous GISH/FISH-rDNA to reveal intergenomic exchanges and rDNA cytotypes in unisexual A. laterale – 2 jeffersonianum (LJJ) triploids and their tetraploid derivative A. laterale – 3 jeffersonianum (LJJJ). We identified 10 different patterns of intergenomic exchanges from 18 isolated populations and used them as primary cytogenetic markers. Major rDNA cytotypes served as independent and supplementary markers. Our results suggest that current LJJ and LJJJ populations in southern Ontario are likely derived from a few unisexual individuals. Intergenomic exchanges are common phenomena and widely distributed in the salamanders of the A. laterale – A. jeffersonianum unisexual complex. Integration of GISH and FISH can exhibit multiple unrelated chromosomal markers on the same chromosome spread and demonstrate lineage relationships in unisexual populations. Similar methods may be applied for studying the molecular cytogenetics of other unisexuals to improve our understanding of their genealogical relationships and historical dispersal.
Key wordsAmbystoma cytotypes fluorescence in situ hybridization GISH intergenomic exchanges polyploid rDNA unisexual
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