Slow lorises are a cryptic species complex, and thus genetic markers are needed to identify distinct evolutionary lineages or species. We examined the nucleolus organizer regions (NORs) of Bengal slow lorises (Nycticebus bengalensis) using FISH with 18S rDNA (rDNA-FISH) and silver nitrate staining (Ag-NOR stain). Ten individuals of the putatively single species N. bengalensis showed higher variability in localization than 3 other congeners, though their overall karyotypes were similar. The rDNA-FISH analysis detected a total of 18 loci, in contrast to previous studies of other slow loris species that revealed far fewer (6-10) loci. Eight of the 18 loci detected in the present analysis were found to be semi-stable localizations at 4 different chromosomes, while 10 were found to be unstable localizations at 5 other chromosomes. The semi-stable locations showed occasional presence/absence of variations for rDNA-FISH, and unstable locations were polymorphic among individuals, contributing to the higher variability of NORs in this taxon. We hypothesize that the larger numbers of rDNA loci found in N. bengalensis were introduced by genomic dispersion through ectopic recombination in association with terminal regions including rDNA. Such differences are potentially very powerful chromosomal markers to be used in species identification and conservation.

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