With nearly 2,000 species, Gobiidae is the most specious family of the vertebrates. This high level of speciation is accompanied by conspicuous karyotypic modifications, where the role of repetitive sequences remains largely unknown. This study analyzed the karyotype of 2 species of the genus Gobionellus and mapped 18S and 5S ribosomal RNA genes and (CA)15 microsatellite sequences onto their chromosomes. G. oceanicus (2n = 56; ♂ 12 metacentrics (m) + 4 submetacentrics (sm) + 1 subtelocentric (st) + 39 acrocentrics (a); ♀ 12m + 4sm + 2st + 38a) and G. stomatus (2n = 56; ♂ 20m + 14sm + 1st + 21a; ♀ 20m + 14sm + 2st + 20a) possess the highest diploid chromosome number among the Gobiidae and have different karyotypes. Both species share an XX/XY sex chromosome system with a large subtelocentric X and a small acrocentric Y chromosome which is rich in (CA)15 sequences and bears 5S rRNA sites. Although coding and noncoding repetitive DNA sequences may be involved in the genesis or differentiation of the sex chromosomes, the exclusive presence of 5S rDNA sites on the Y, but not on the X chromosome of both species, represents a novelty in fishes. In summary, the karyotypic differences, as well as new data on the sex chromosome systems in these 2 Gobiidae species, confirm the high chromosomal dynamism observed in this family.

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