In scarab beetle species of the genus Pentodon, the lack of analysis of sex chromosomes in females along with the poor characterization of sex chromosomes in the males, prevented all previous investigations from conclusively stating sex determination system. In this study, somatic chromosomes from females and spermatogonial chromosomes from males of Pentodon bidens punctatum (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea: Scarabaeidae) from Sicily have been analyzed using non-differential Giemsa staining. Two modal numbers of chromosomes were obtained: 2n = 20 and 19 in females and males, respectively. This finding along with other karyological characteristics such as the occurrence of one unpaired, heterotypic chromosome at metaphase-I and two types of metaphase-II spreads in spermatocytes demonstrate that a XO male/XX female sex determining mechanism - quite unusual among Scarabaeoidea - operates in the species investigated here. Spermatocyte chromosomes have also been examined after a number of banding techniques and fluorescent in situ hybridization with ribosomal sequences as a probe (rDNA FISH). The results obtained showed that silver and CMA3 staining were inadequate to localize the chromosome sites of nucleolus organizer regions (NORs) due to the over-all stainability of both constitutive heterochromatin and heterochromatin associated to the NORs. This suggests that heterochromatic DNA of P. b. punctatum is peculiar as compared with other types of heterochromatin studied so far in other invertebrate taxa. By rDNA FISH major ribosomal genes were mapped on the X chromosome.
2003 by The Genetics Society of Japan