Maize Chromosome Tools: Quantitative Changes in Chromatin

  • David Weber

This chapter discusses chromosome tools that alter the quantity of chromatin in the maize genome. These tools are monosomes, trisomes, telocentrics, telodisomes, isochromosomes, deficiencies, duplications, and ring chromosomes. The sources of each of these, and some of the ways they can be and have been employed in experimental studies will be discussed. Although maize is considered to be a true diploid, its genome is much more tolerant to quantitative changes of chromatin than the genomes of many other diploids because much of the maize genome is present as duplicated segments.

Evidence that duplicated segments exist in the maize genome has accumulated through the years. Rhoades (1951) pointed out that there were at least 14 cases of duplicate, 2 of triplicate, and 1 of quadruplicate factor inheritance known at the time. Each factor had to be present in the recessive condition for the mutant pheno-type to be expressed. From this and other observations, he concluded, “that the architecture of maize contains duplicated regions can hardly be doubted.” The presence of bivalents at diakinesis in maize haploids has been interpreted as evidence for interchromosomal homology. Ting (1966) reported that 59.9% of diakinesis cells contained one or more bivalent; however, other studies (Ford 1952; Snope 1967; and Weber and Alexander 1972) reported much lower frequencies of pairs. Exchanges between nonhomologous chromosomes in haploids have identified the locations of presumptive redundant sequences within the maize genome (Weber and Alexander 1972). Helentjaris, Weber, and Wright (1988) found that 62 of 217 cloned maize DNA sequences hybridized with more than one DNA fragment on Southern blots identifying duplicate nucleotide sequences in maize. The genomic locations of the duplicate sequences were determined, and more recent studies by others have identified numerous additional duplicated sequences in maize (summarized in Gaut 2001; Ahn, Anderson, Sorrells, and Tanksley 1993; Moore, Devos, Wang, and Gale 2005; Odland, Baumgarten, Phillips 2006). These and other studies have demonstrated that much of the maize genome is duplicated, and it is becoming increasingly accepted that maize had an allopolyploid ancestry (see chapter in this volume by Messing). However, because five pairs of homoeologous chromosomes are not currently present within the maize genome, the genome has been extensively rearranged subsequent to the apparent allopolyploidisation event.


Female Parent Maize Genome Specific Chromosome Ring Chromosome Maize Chromosome 
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  • David Weber

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