Comparative cytogenetics of two species of ground skinks: Scincella assata and S. cherriei (Squamata: Scincidae: Lygosominae) from Chiapas, Mexico

Riccardo Castiglia, Alexandra M.R. Bezerra, Oscar Flores-Villela, Flavia Annesi, Antonio Muñoz, Ekaterina Gornung


Standard karyotypes of two species of the genus Scincella, S. assata and S. cherriei, both from Chiapas State, Mexico, were described for the first time. The diploid chromosome number was 28 in S. assata, whereas 30 in S. cherriei. The karyotypes of the two species, while differing in the number of microchromosomes, 14-15 in S. assata and 16-17 in S. cherriei, share four pairs of large metacentric, two pairs of medium-sized metacentric, and one particular pair (number 7) of chromosomes. Female S. assata carries chromosome pair 7 composed of two identical medium-sized subtelocentric chromosomes. This chromosome pair is heteromorphic in males of both species, i.e., one component of the pair is similar to the homomorphic chromosomes 7 of the S. assata female, while the other is nearly one-half the size of its counterpart and resembles a microchromosome. The homology of such externally different elements is deducted from the presence of an asymmetric bivalent in spermatocytes at diplotene-diakinesis. Female S. cherriei was not available. We suspect that the two Scincella species possess an XY sex determination system, as previously reported for the North American congeneric species, S. lateralis.

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