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Journal of Evolutionary Biology

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Current understanding of sex chromosome evolution is largely dependent on species with highly degenerated, heteromorphic sex chromosomes, but by studying species with recently evolved or morphologically indistinct sex chromosomes we can greatly increase our understanding of sex chromosome origins, degeneration and turnover. Here, we examine sex chromosome evolution and stability in the gecko genus Aristelliger. We used RADseq to identify sex‐specific markers and show that four Aristelliger species, spanning the phylogenetic breadth of the genus, share a conserved ZZ/ZW system syntenic with avian chromosome 2. These conserved sex chromosomes contrast with many other gecko sex chromosome systems by showing a degree of stability among a group known for its dynamic sex‐determining mechanisms. Cytogenetic data from A. expectatus revealed homomorphic sex chromosomes with an accumulation of repetitive elements on the W chromosome. Taken together, the large number of female‐specific A. praesignis RAD markers and the accumulation of repetitive DNA on the A. expectatus W karyotype suggest that the Z and W chromosomes are highly differentiated despite their overall morphological similarity. We discuss this paradoxical situation and suggest that it may, in fact, be common in many animal species.


Accepted version. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 33, No. 9 (September 2020): 1316-1326. DOI. © 2020 Wiley. Used with permission.

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