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Sousa, Aretuza; Bechteler, Julia; Temsch, Eva M.; Renner, Susanne S. (2020): Different from tracheophytes, liverworts commonly have mixed 35S and 5S arrays. In: Annals of Botany, Vol. 125, No. 7: pp. 1057-1064
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Background and Aims: Unlike other nuclear genes in eukaryotes, rDNA genes (5S and 35S loci) are present in numerous copies per cell and, when stained, can therefore provide basic information about genome organization. In tracheophytes (vascular plants), they are usually located on separate chromosomes, the so-called S-type organization. An analysis of 1791 species of land plants suggested that S-type arrays might be ancestral in land plants, while linked (L-type) organization may be derived. However, no outgroup and only a handful of ferns and bryophytes were included. Methods We analysed genome sizes and the distribution of telomere, 5S and 35S rDNA FISH signals in up to 12 monoicous or dioicous species of liverworts from throughout a phylogeny that includes 287 of the 386 currently recognized genera. We also used the phylogeny to plot chromosome numbers and the occurrence of visibly distinct sex chromosomes. Key Results Chromosome numbers are newly reported for the monoicous Lejeunea cavifolia and for females of the dioicous Scapania aequiloba. We detected sex-related differences in the number of rDNA signals in the dioicous Plagiochila asplenioides and Frullania dilatata. In the latter, the presence of two UU chromosomes in females and additional 5S-35S rDNA loci result in a haploid genome 0.2082 pg larger than the male genome;sex-specific genome differences in the other dioicous species were small. Four species have S-type rDNA, while five species have mixed L-S rDNA organization, and transitions may have occurred multiple times, as suggested by rDNA loci not being conserved among closely related species of Pellia. All species shared an Arabidopsis-like telomere motif, and its detection allowed verification of the chromosome number of Rachda complanata and chromosome rearrangements in Aneura pinguis and P asplenioides, the latter also showing sex-specific interstitial telomere repeats. Conclusions: The S and L rDNA arrangements appear to have evolved repeatedly within liverworts, even in the same species. Evidence for differential accumulation of rDNA between the sexes so far is limited.