Papoli Yazdi H, Ellegren H
Genome Biol Evol - (-) - [2018-08-07; online 2018-08-07]
Recombination arrest is a necessary step for the evolution of distinct sex chromosomes. Structural changes, such as inversions, may represent the mechanistic basis for recombination suppression and comparisons of the structural organization of chromosomes as given by chromosome-level assemblies offer the possibility to infer inversions across species at some detail. In birds, deduction of the process of sex chromosome evolution has been hampered by the lack of a validated chromosome-level assembly from a representative of one of the two basal clades of modern birds, Paleognathae. We therefore developed a high-density genetic linkage map of the ostrich Z chromosome and used this to correct an existing assembly, including correction of a large chimeric superscaffold and the order and orientation of other superscaffolds. We identified the pseudoautosomal region (PAR) as a 52 Mb segment (≈60% of the Z chromosome) where recombination occurred in both sexes. By comparing the order and location of genes on the ostrich Z chromosome with that of six bird species from the other major clade of birds (Neognathae), and of reptilian outgroup species, 25 Z-linked inversions were inferred in the avian lineages. We defined Z chromosome organization in an early avian ancestor and identified inversions spanning the candidate sex-determining DMRT1 gene in this ancestor, which could potentially have triggered the onset of avian sex chromosome evolution. We conclude that avian sex chromosome evolution has been characterized by a complex process of probably both Z-linked and W-linked inversions (and/or other processes). This study illustrates the need for validated chromosome-level assemblies for inference of genome evolution.
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