Sauropsids form a complex group of vertebrates including squamates (lizards and snakes), turtles, crocodiles, sphenodon and birds (which are often considered as a separate class). Although avian genomes have been relatively well studied, the genomes of the other groups have remained only sparsely characterized. Moreover, the nuclear sequences available in databanks are still very limited. In the present study, we have analysed the compositional patterns, i.e. the GC (molar fraction of guanine and cytosine in DNA) distributions, of 31 reptilian (particularly snake) genomes by analytical ultracentrifugation of DNAs in CsCl gradients. The profiles were characterized by their modal buoyant density ρo, mean buoyant density 〈 ρ〉, asymmetry 〈 ρ〉- ρo, and heterogeneity H. The modal buoyant density distribution of reptilian DNAs clearly distinguishes two groups. The snakes fall in the same range of modal densities as most mammals, whereas crocodiles, turtles and lizards show higher values (>1.700 g/cm3). As far as the more important compositional properties of asymmetry and heterogeneity are concerned, previous studies showed that amphibians and fishes share relatively low values, whereas birds and mammals are characterized by highly heterogeneous and asymmetric patterns (with the exception of Muridae, which have a lower heterogeneity). The present results show that the snake genomes cover a broad range of asymmetry and heterogeneity values, whereas the genomes of crocodiles and turtles cover a narrow range that is intermediate between those of fishes/amphibians and those of mammals/birds.
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