Lutjanidae, commonly known as snappers, includes 105 species, grouped in four subfamilies. In spite of the high number of species and of its worldwide distribution, the family has been little investigated and the phylogenetic relationships among some of its genera and species are still cause for debate. Only a small number of the species has been cytogenetically analysed. This study reports the first description of the karyotype of Rhomboplites aurorubens as well as data concerning the distribution of the constitutive heterochromatin and the location of the 18S rRNA and the 5S rRNA genes. Specimens of Ocyurus chrysurus from Venezuela were also investigated for the same cytogenetic features. Both species have a 48 uniarmed karyotype, but R. aurorubens has a single subtelocentric chromosome pair, the smallest of the chromosome complement, among the other acrocentric chromosomes. The C-positive heterochromatin is limited to the pericentromeric regions of all chromosomes. Both species show a single chromosome pair bearing the Nucleolus Organizer Regions, but NORs are differently located, in a terminal position on the short arms of the smallest chromosomes in R. aurorubens and in a paracentromeric position in a chromosome pair of large size in O. chrysurus. In O. chrysurus, the 5S rDNA gene cluster is located on a medium-sized chromosome pair, whereas in R. aurorubens it is syntenic with the 18S rDNA gene cluster on chromosome pair number 24. The obtained cytogenetic data, along with previous cytogenetic, morphological and molecular data for the family, reinforce the proposal to synonymize genus Ocyurus with Lutjanus. A review of Lutjanidae cytogenetics is also included.
C-banding; FISH, Karyotype; NORs; Ribosomal genes