The genomes of birds and nonavian reptiles (Reptilia) are critical for understanding genome evolution in mammals and amniotes generally. Despite decades of study at the chromosomal and single-gene levels, and the evidence for great diversity in genome size, karyotype, and sex chromosome diversity, reptile genomes are virtually unknown in the comparative genomics era. The recent sequencing of the chicken and zebra finch genomes, in conjunction with genome scans and the online publication of the lizard genome, has begun to clarify the events leading from an ancestral amniote genome—predicted to be large and to possess a diverse repeat landscape on par with mammals and a birdlike sex chromosome system—to the small and highly streamlined genomes of birds. Reptilia exhibit a wide range of evolutionary rates of different subgenomes and, from isochores to mitochondrial DNA, provide a critical contrast to the genomic paradigms established in mammals.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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