Multidirectional cross-species painting illuminates the history of karyotypic evolution in Perissodactyla
The order Perissodactyla, the group of odd-toed ungulates, includes three extant families: Equidae, Tapiridae, and Rhinocerotidae. The extremely rapid karyotypic diversification in perissodactyls has so far prevented the establishment of genome-wide homology maps between these three families by traditional cytogenetic approaches. Here we report the first genome-wide comparative chromosome maps of African rhinoceroses, four tapir species, four equine species, and humans. These maps were established by multidirectional chromosome painting, with paint probes derived from flow-sorted chromosomes of Equus grevyi, Tapirus indicus, and Ceratotherium simum as well as painting probes from horse and human. The Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus), Baird's tapir (T. bairdii), mountain tapir (T. pinchaque), lowland tapir (T. terrestris), and onager (E. hemionus onager), were studied by cross-species chromosome painting for the first time. Our results, when integrated with previously published comparative chromosome maps of the other perissodactyl species, have enabled the reconstruction of perissodactyl, ceratomorph, and equid ancestral karyotypes, and the identification of the defining evolutionary chromosomal rearrangements along each lineage. Our results allow a more reliable estimate of the mode and tempo of evolutionary chromosomal rearrangements, revealing a striking switch between the slowly evolving ceratomorphs and extremely rapidly evolving equids. © 2008 Springer.