Anchoring genome sequence to chromosomes of the central bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) enables reconstruction of ancestral squamate macrochromosomes and identifies sequence content of the Z chromosome
Reptiles, as the sister group to birds and mammals, are particularly valuable for comparative genomic studies among amniotes. The Australian central bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) is being developed as a reptilian model for such comparisons, with whole-genome sequencing near completion. The karyotype consists of 6 pairs of macrochromosomes and 10 pairs microchromosomes (2n = 32), including a female heterogametic ZW sex microchromosome pair. Here, we present a molecular cytogenetic map for P. vitticeps comprising 87 anchor bacterial artificial chromosome clones that together span each macro- and microchromosome. It is the first comprehensive cytogenetic map for any non-avian reptile. We identified an active nucleolus organizer region (NOR) on the sub-telomeric region of 2q by mapping 18S rDNA and Ag-NOR staining. We identified interstitial telomeric sequences in two microchromosome pairs and the W chromosome, indicating that microchromosome fusion has been a mechanism of karyotypic evolution in Australian agamids within the last 21 to 19 million years. Orthology searches against the chicken genome revealed an intrachromosomal rearrangement of P. vitticeps 1q, identified regions orthologous to chicken Z on P. vitticeps 2q, snake Z on P. vitticeps 6q and the autosomal microchromosome pair in P. vitticeps orthologous to turtle Pelodiscus sinensis ZW and lizard Anolis carolinensis XY. This cytogenetic map will be a valuable reference tool for future gene mapping studies and will provide the framework for the work currently underway to physically anchor genome sequences to chromosomes for this model Australian squamate.