AbstractBackground and Aims
Studying the genome structure of pines has been hindered by their large genomes and uniform karyotypes. Consequently our understanding of the genome organization and evolutionary changes in different groups of pines is extremely limited. However, techniques are now available that can surmount these difficulties. The purpose of this study was to exploit some of these techniques to characterize the genome differentiation between the two subgenera of Pinus: Pinus and Strobus.Methods
Double-probe fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) was used to localize the 5S and 18S rDNA loci on chromosomes of five species from the subgenus Strobus: P. bungeana, P. koraiensis, P. armandii, P. wallichiana and P. strobus.Key Results
The rDNA FISH pattern varied considerably among the five species, with P. bungeana being the most distinct. By comparing the results obtained with those of previous rDNA FISH studies of members of the subgenus Pinus, several general features of rDNA loci distribution in the genus Pinus can be discerned: (a) species of subgenus Strobus generally have more rDNA loci than species of subgenus Pinus, correlating with their larger genomes in the subgenus Strobus; (b) there is a clear differentiation in 5S and 18S rDNA loci linkage patterns between the two subgenera; (c) variations in the rDNA FISH pattern correlate with phylogenetic relationships among species within the subgenus; (d) P. bungeana has fewer 18S rDNA sites than other pines investigated to date, but they give intense signals, and may reflect the primary distribution of the 18S–25S rDNA loci in the genus.Conclusions
The stable differentiation in rDNA FISH pattern between the subgenera suggests that chromosomal rearrangements played a role in the splitting of the two subgenera, and transpositional events rather than major structural changes are likely responsible for the variable rDNA distribution patterns among species of the same subgenus with conserved karyotypes.