Multidirectional chromosome painting substantiates the occurrence of extensive genomic reshuffling within Accipitriformes
Like various other diurnal birds of prey, the world's largest eagle, the Harpy (Harpia harpyja), presents an atypical bird karyotype with 2n=58 chromosomes. There is little knowledge about the dramatic changes in the genomic reorganization of these species compared to other birds. Since recently, the chicken provides a “default map” for various birds including the first genomic DNA sequence of a bird species. Obviously, the gross division of the chicken genome into relatively gene-poor macrochromosomes and predominantly gene-rich microchromosomes has been conserved for more than 150 million years in most bird species. Here, we present classical features of the Harpy eagle karyotype but also chromosomal homologies between H. harpyja and the chicken by chromosome painting and comparison to the chicken genome map. We used two different sets of painting probes: (1) chicken chromosomes were divided into three size categories: (a) macrochromosomes 1–5 and Z, (b) medium-sized chromosomes 6–10, and (c) 19 microchromosomes; (2) combinatorially labeled chicken chromosome paints 1–6 and Z. Both probe sets were visualized on H. harpyja chromosomes by multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Our data show how the organization into micro- and macrochromosomes has been lost in the Harpy eagle, seemingly without any preference or constraints.