Satellite DNA is an inseparable fellow traveller of B chromosomes

Juan Pedro M. Camacho, Francisco J. Ruiz-Ruano, María Dolores López-León, Josefa Cabrero

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Citations (Scopus)


Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) has revealed that B chromosomes in several species are enriched in repetitive DNA, mostly satellite DNA (satDNA). This raises the question of whether satDNA is important to B chromosomes for functional reasons or else its abundance on Bs is simply a consequence of properties of B chromosomes such as their dispensability and late replication. Here we review current knowledge in this respect and contextualize it within the frame of practical difficulties to perform this kind of research, the most important being the absence of good full genome sequencing for B-carrying species, which is an essential requisite to ascertain the intragenomic origin of B chromosomes. Our review analysis on 16 species revealed that 38% of them showed B-specific satDNAs whereas only one of them (6%) carried an inter-specifically originated B chromosome. This shows that B-specific satDNA families can eventually evolve in intraspecifically arisen B chromosomes. Finally, the possibility of satDNA accumulation on B chromosomes for functional reasons is exemplified by B chromosomes in rye, as they contain B-specific satDNAs which are transcribed and occupy chromosome locations where they might facilitate the kind of drive shown by this B chromosome during pollen grain mitosis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSatellite DNAs in Physiology and Evolution
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-74889-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-74888-3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2021

Publication series

NameProgress in molecular and subcellular biology
ISSN (Print)0079-6484


  • B chromosome
  • Heterochromatin
  • Repeatome
  • Satellite DNA

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