A detailed karyotype analysis of the oleander aphid Aphis nerii focusing on the distribution, molecular composition and epigenetic modifications of heterochromatin was done in order to better understand the structure and evolution of holocentric/holokinetic chromosomes in aphids. The female karyotype (2n = 8) consisted of 3 pairs of autosomes and a pair of X chromosomes that were the longest elements in the karyotype and carried a single, terminally located nucleolar organizer region. Males showed 2n = 7 chromosomes due to the presence of a single X chromosome. Heterochromatin was located in the X chromosomes only and consisted of 4 satellite DNAs that have been identified. A. nerii constitutive heterochromatin was enriched in mono-, di- and tri-methylated H3 histones and HP1 proteins but, interestingly, it lacked DNA methylation that was widespread in euchromatic chromosomal regions. These results suggest that aphid heterochromatin is assembled and condensed without any involvement of DNA methylation.

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