Wheat Meiocytes

During meiosis, homologous chromosomes recognized each other, align, pair and exchange genetic material via recombination. In wheat, rye and barley, genetic recombination frequency is high near the telomeres, but rare towards the centromeres and in Arabidopsis the recombination seems to be in the region of low chromatin condensation.



Breeding programs have the objectives to develop more productive and more stable varieties. Hybridization and selection are frequently employed in plant breeding and the success of introgression of special traits such as disease resistance relies on genetic recombination between the host and alien chromosomes. However, because chiasmata are more frequent towards the telomere, it implies that a large area of the chromosomes rarely recombine. Therefore, a  better understanding of chromosome pairing, synapsis and recombination in cereals should enable the creation of tools that would allow the manipulation of the frequency and distribution of recombination within these species to enable breeders to access variation in these low-recombinogenic regions of the genome.



The EU funded project entitled Systematic Analysis of Factors Controlling Meiotic Recombination in Higher Plants ( MEIOSYS ), brings together nine participants and combines approaches in genomics and systems biology with the aim of obtain a detailed understanding of the factors that control recombination.  An important strand of the project is the utilization of knowledge derived from the model Arabidopsis to provide a basis for the development of strategies to modify recombination in barley. The transfer of knowledge to the crop will involve the development of novel resources with altered meiotic phenotypes through reverse genetic approaches as well as the characterization of existing resources provided by the available collection of barley desynaptic mutants. These lines are being assessed cytologically and form the basis of segregating populations that will allow the assessment of the mutations on recombination.


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