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Plant J. 2015 Jul;83(1):52-61. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12870. Epub 2015 May 20.

Meiotic recombination hotspots - a comparative view.

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Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EA, UK.


During meiosis homologous chromosomes pair and undergo reciprocal genetic exchange, termed crossover. Meiotic recombination has a profound effect on patterns of genetic variation and is an important tool during crop breeding. Crossovers initiate from programmed DNA double-stranded breaks that are processed to form single-stranded DNA, which can invade a homologous chromosome. Strand invasion events mature into double Holliday junctions that can be resolved as crossovers. Extensive variation in the frequency of meiotic recombination occurs along chromosomes and is typically focused in narrow hotspots, observed both at the level of DNA breaks and final crossovers. We review methodologies to profile hotspots at different steps of the meiotic recombination pathway that have been used in different eukaryote species. We then discuss what these studies have revealed concerning specification of hotspot locations and activity and the contributions of both genetic and epigenetic factors. Understanding hotspots is important for interpreting patterns of genetic variation in populations and how eukaryotic genomes evolve. In addition, manipulation of hotspots will allow us to accelerate crop breeding, where meiotic recombination distributions can be limiting.


DNA motifs; chromatin; hotspots; meiosis; recombination

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