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Spacer size heterogeneity in ribosomal DNA of Chironomus thummi is due to a 120 bp repeat homologous to a predominantly centromeric repeated sequence.

The rDNA of Ch. tepperi is homogeneous in structure with a repeat size of 8.4 kb. This size seems to be typical for the basic repeat unit in Chironomus species. Ch. th. piger rDNA cistrons are slightly increased in length (9.0 kb). In the non-transcribed spacer (NTS) an appr. 0.18 kb segment is additionally present in about 50% of the repeats. Ch. th. thumni DNA contains largely heterogeneous rDNA repeats, mainly between 10 and 16 kb. The heterogeneity is due to varying numbers of 120 bp elements present in the NTS. The different spacer size classes are not randomly distributed. The short repetitive 120 bp elements (Cla I elements) hybridize in situ with the nucleolus and with centromere regions. The Cla I elements are regularly present in the thummi NTS, but are absent in the piger NTS. Only very few piger rDNA cistrons may contain Cla I elements.