The fish order Aulopiformes contains both synchronously hermaphroditic and gonochoristic species. From the cytogenetic viewpoint, few reports show that gonochoristic Aulopiformes have heteromorphic sex chromosomes. Because fish in this order give us a unique opportunity to elucidate the evolution of sex chromosomes, it is important to examine a phylogenetic relationship in Aulopiformes by both molecular evolutionary and cytogenetic methods. Thus, we conducted molecular phylogenetic and cytogenetic studies of six Aulopiform species. Our results suggested that hermaphroditic species were evolutionarily derived from gonochoristic species. It follows that the hermaphroditic species might have lost the heteromorphic sex chromosomes during evolution. Here, we suggest a possibility that heteromorphic sex chromosomes can disappear from the genome, even if they have appeared once in evolution. Taking into account Ohno's hypothesis that heteromorphic sex chromosomes might have emerged from autosomes, we propose the hypothesis that heteromorphic sex chromosomes may have undergone repeated events of appearance and disappearance during the course of fish evolution.
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