To investigate the karyotypic relationships between Chinese muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi), forest musk deer (Moschus berezovskii) and gayal (Bos frontalis), a complete set of Chinese muntjac chromosome-specific painting probes has been assigned to G-banded chromosomes of these three species. Sixteen autosomal probes (i.e. 6–10, 12–22) of the Chinese muntjac each delineated one pair of conserved segments in the forest musk deer and gayal, respectively. The remaining six autosomal probes (1–5, and 11) each delineated two to five pairs of conserved segments. In total, the 22 autosomal painting probes of Chinese muntjac delineated 33 and 34 conserved chromosomal segments in the genomes of forest musk deer and gayal, respectively. The combined analysis of comparative chromosome painting and G-band comparison reveals that most interspecific homologous segments show a high degree of conservation in G-banding patterns. Eleven chromosome fissions and five chromosome fusions differentiate the karyotypes of Chinese muntjac and forest musk deer; twelve chromosome fissions and six fusions are required to convert the Chinese muntjac karyotype to that of gayal; one chromosome fission and one fusion separate the forest musk deer and gayal. The musk deer has retained a highly conserved karyotype that closely resembles the proposed ancestral pecoran karyotype but shares none of the rearrangements characteristic for the Cervidae and Bovidae. Our results substantiate that chromosomes 1–5 and 11 of Chinese muntjac originated through exclusive centromere-to-telomere fusions of ancestral acrocentric chromosomes.   

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