In most multicellular eukaryotes, synapsis [synaptonemal complex (SC) formation] between pairs of homologous chromosomes during prophase I of meiosis is closely linked with crossing over. Asynaptic mutants in plants have reduced synapsis and increased univalent frequency, often resulting in genetically unbalanced gametes and reduced fertility. Surprisingly, some asynaptic mutants (like as1 in tomato) have wildtype or increased levels of crossing over. To investigate, we examined SC spreads from as1/as1 microsporocytes using both light and electron microscopic immunolocalization. We observed increased numbers of MLH1 foci (a crossover marker) per unit length of SC in as1 mutants compared to wild-type. These changes are associated with reduced levels of detectable cohesin proteins in the axial and lateral elements (AE/LEs) of SCs, and the AE/LEs of as1 mutants are also significantly longer than those of wild-type or another asynaptic mutant. These results indicate that chromosome axis structure, synapsis, and crossover control are all closely linked in plants.
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