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Nature. 2001 May 10;411(6834):204-7.

The Ph1 locus is needed to ensure specific somatic and meiotic centromere association.

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  • 1John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney, UK.


The correct pairing and segregation of chromosomes during meiosis is essential for genetic stability and subsequent fertility. This is more difficult to achieve in polyploid species, such as wheat, because they possess more than one diploid set of similar chromosomes. In wheat, the Ph1 locus ensures correct homologue pairing and recombination. Although clustering of telomeres into a bouquet early in meiosis has been suggested to facilitate homologue pairing, centromeres associate in pairs in polyploid cereals early during floral development. We can now extend this observation to root development. Here we show that the Ph1 locus acts both meiotically and somatically by reducing non-homologous centromere associations. This has the effect of promoting true homologous association when centromeres are induced to associate. In fact, non-homologously associated centromeres separate at the beginning of meiosis in the presence, but not the absence, of Ph1. This permits the correction of homologue association during the telomere-bouquet stage in meiosis. We conclude that the Ph1 locus is not responsible for the induction of centromere association, but rather for its specificity.

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