The maize karyotype was first characterized by the observation of pachytene chromosomes. The somatic chromosomes were identified by C-banding and FISH with repetitive DNA sequences. C-banding was useful for the identification of chromosome abnormalities in callus cultures. In the present review, we focus on the involvement of heterochromatic knobs on the occurrence of chromosome abnormalities in callus cultures. In a previous work we detected anaphase bridges resulting from delayed chromatid separation at knob regions and typical bridges derived from dicentric chromatids in cultures. The analysis of altered chromosomes showed they were derived from a chromatid-type breakage-fusion-bridge (BFB) cycle. Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) showed signals of telomere sequences in the broken chromosome arm, thus giving evidence of de novo telomere formation on the broken chromosome end. Further observations of long- and short-term cultures have shown the presence of chromosome alterations derived from BFB cycles followed by chromosome healing. Additionally, the occurrence of unequal crossing over in a knob region was observed in callus culture. These results are of interest for studies on the mechanisms of chromosome alterations during evolution.
Part of the book: Chromosomal Abnormalities