Gymnotidae is a family of electric fish endemic to the Neotropics consisting of 2 genera: Electrophorus and Gymnotus. The genus Gymnotus is widely distributed and is found in all of the major Brazilian river systems. Physical and molecular mapping data for the ribosomal DNA (rDNA) in this genus are still scarce, with its chromosomal location known in only 11 species. As other species of Gymnotus with 2n = 54 chromosomes from the Paraná-Paraguay basin, G. mamiraua was found to have a large number of 5S rDNA sites. Isolation and cloning of the 5S rDNA sequences from G. mamiraua identified a fragment of a transposable element similar to the Tc1/mariner transposon associated with a non-transcribed spacer. Double fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis of this element and the 5S rDNA showed that they were colocalized on several chromosomes, in addition to acting as nonsyntenic markers on others. Our data show the association between these sequences and suggest that the Tc1 retrotransposon may be the agent that drives the spread of these 5S rDNA-like sequences in the G. mamiraua genome.

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