The present paper shows the results of chromosome banding and rDNA-FISH study performed on several specimens of different populations of Patella caerulea, Patella rustica and Patella ulyssiponensis. The taxonomic attribution of specimens was ascertained by the molecular phylogenetic analysis of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene. P. caerulea and P. rustica had 2n = 18 chromosomes with first seven of biarmed pairs and the remaining two uniarmed pairs. P. ulyssiponensis had 2n = 16 with all biarmed chromosomes. Ag-NOR loci were on the short arms of the first metacentric pair in the three studied limpets, whereas they showed a different pattern of heterochromatin distribution and composition. A chromosome mosaicism was observed in several P. caerulea specimens, which exhibited an unpaired metacentric element and loss of a telocentric pair. The obtained results suggest that in the genus Patella specific diversification was accompanied by variations in heterochromatin distribution and composition and reduction of chromosome number by Robertsonian centric fusion.
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