Microsatellite accumulation on the Y chromosome in Silene latifolia
The dioecious plant Silene latifolia possesses evolutionarily young sex chromosomes, and so serves as a model system to study the early stages of sex chromosome evolution. Sex chromosomes often differ distinctly from autosomes in both their structure and their patterns of evolution. The S. latifolia Y chromosome is particularly unique owing to its large size, which contrasts with the size of smaller, degenerate mammalian Y chromosomes. It is thought that the suppression of recombination on the S. latifolia Y chromosome could have resulted in the accumulation of repetitive sequences that account for its large size. Here we used fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to study the chromosomal distribution of various microsatellites in S. latifolia including all possible mono-, di, and tri-nucleotides. Our results demonstrate that a majority of microsatellites are accumulated on the q arm of the Y chromosome, which stopped recombining relatively recently and has had less time to accumulate repetitive DNA sequences compared with the p arm. Based on these results we can speculate that microsatellites have accumulated in regions that predate the genome expansion, supporting the view that the accumulation of repetitive DNA sequences occurred prior to, not because of, the degeneration of genes.