Marsupials, which diverged from eutherian mammals 150 million years ago (MYA), occupy a phylogenetic position that is very valuable in genome comparisons of mammal and other vertebrate species. Within the marsupials, the Australian and American clades (represented by the tammar wallaby Macropus eugenii, and the opossum Monodelphis domestica) diverged about 70 MYA. G-banding and chromosome painting suggest that tammar wallaby chromosome 6q has homology to opossum chromosome 7q. We tested this conservation by physically mapping the tammar wallaby orthologs of opossum chromosome 7q genes. We isolated 28 tammar wallaby BAC clones that contained orthologs of 16 opossum chromosome 7q genes. We used fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to show that they all mapped specifically to the tammar wallaby chromosome 6q in nearly the same order as their orthologs on opossum chromosome 7q. Thus this chromosome arm is genetically, as well as cytologically, conserved over the 55-80 million years that separate kangaroos and the opossum.
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