Meiotic chromosome structure and function in plants.

Research paper by Samantha S Mainiero, Wojciech P WP Pawlowski

Indexed on: 07 Aug '14Published on: 07 Aug '14Published in: Cytogenetic and genome research


Chromosome structure is important for many meiotic processes. Here, we outline 3 main determinants of chromosome structure and their effects on meiotic processes in plants. Cohesins are necessary to hold sister chromatids together until the first meiotic division, ensuring that homologous chromosomes and not sister chromatids separate during anaphase I. During meiosis in maize, Arabidopsis, and rice, cohesins are needed for establishing early prophase chromosome structure and recombination and for aligning bivalents at the metaphase plate. Condensin complexes play pivotal roles in controlling the packaging of chromatin into chromosomes through chromatin compaction and chromosome individualization. In animals and fungi, these complexes establish a meiotic chromosome structure that allows for proper recombination, pairing, and synapsis of homologous chromosomes. In plants, information on the role of condensins in meiosis is limited, but they are known to be required for successful completion of reproductive development. Therefore, we speculate that they play roles similar to animal and fungal condensins during meiosis. Plants generally have large and complex genomes due to frequent polyploidy events, and likely, condensins and cohesins organize chromosomes in such a way as to ensure genome stability. Hexaploid wheat has evolved a unique mechanism using a Ph1 locus-controlled chromosome organization to ensure proper chromosome pairing in meiosis. Altogether, studies on meiotic chromosome structure indicate that chromosome organization is not only important for chromatin packaging but also fulfills specific functions in facilitating chromosome interactions during meiosis, including pairing and recombination.