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Genetics. 1987 Oct;117(2):285-95.

Heritability and Variability in Ribosomal RNA Genes of Vicia faba.

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Departments of Botany and Genetics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195.


We have compared the restriction patterns and copy numbers of ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) between and within individuals of Vicia faba . While the EcoRI blot-hybridization patterns changed only after one to two generations, copy number changes were found among different tissues of the same plant. Copy number differences among individuals in the population were as great as 95-fold, whereas as much as a 12-fold variation was seen among tissues of the same plant. Among individual F(1) progeny from genetic crosses, nearly an 8-fold variation was seen, and among individuals of the F(2) generation a spread of 22-fold was measured. Among individual siblings of self-pollinated parents, up to 7-fold variation was observed. However, changes in copy number did not necessarily indicate changes in rDNA EcoRI blot-hybridization pattern, and vice versa. Furthermore, nearest neighbor analysis of R-loop experiments showed that the arrangement of members of the "nontranscribed" spacer (NTS) size classes along the chromosome was not random, but some clustering was indicated. The data are consistent with the hypothesis that sister chromatid exchange in somatic cells of V. faba is the primary mechanism for altering the rDNA copy number as well as causing the extreme variation observed in the NTS. Variation among individuals in rDNA blot-hybridization pattern was also observed for Vicia villosa, Vicia dasycarpa, Vicia benghalensis and Vicia pannonica.


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