Annonaceae represent the largest extant family among the early divergent angiosperms. Despite the long-standing interest in its evolutionary and taxonomic aspects, cytogenetic studies on this family remain extremely few even on economically important species. With this study we realized a detailed characterization of the chromosomes of Annona cherimola (2n=14) by a combination of in situ hybridization techniques, fluorochrome banding and karyomorphological analysis. FISH revealed that 45S and 5S rDNA sites are co-localized in correspondence to the secondary constrictions of the SAT-chromosome pair. Some hypotheses on the organization of the linked 45S and 5S rDNA repeats have been made. FISH with Arabidopsis-type telomeric arrays demonstrated that the A. cherimola telomeres are constituted by TTTAGGG sequences and that they are exclusively localized at the extremities of chromosomes. An insight into the chromosome structure of A. cherimola was obtained by the self-GISH procedure which revealed highly repeated DNA sequences localized in the centromeric regions of all chromosomes. The correspondence of s-GISH signals with DAPI banding suggests that these sequences are the principal component of the centromeric heterochromatin of this species. The karyotype of A. cherimola here described is proposed as the basic reference karyotype for successive investigations on Annonaceae species.
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