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Chapter04_SSM - 65781_CH04_064_086.qxd 12:55 PM Page 64...

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Chapter 4: Chromosomes and Sex-Chromosome Inheritance Chapter Summary The chromosomes in somatic cells of higher plants and animals are present in pairs of homologous chromosomes. Homologous chromosomes are usually identical in appearance, whereas nonhomologous chromosomes often show differences in size and structural detail that make them visibly distinct from each other. A cell whose nucleus contains two sets of homologous chromosomes is diploid. One set of chromosomes comes from the maternal parent and the other from the paternal parent. Gametes are haploid. A gamete contains only one set of chromosomes, consisting of one member of each pair of homologs. Mitosis is the process of nuclear division that maintains the chromosome number when a somatic cell divides. Before mitosis, each chromosome replicates, forming a two-part structure consisting of two sis- ter chromatids joined at the centromere (kinetochore). The chromosomes become visible at the onset of mitosis and, at metaphase, become aligned on the metaphase plate perpendicular to the spindle. At anaphase, the centromere of each chromosome divides, and the sister chromatids are pulled by spindle fibers to opposite poles of the cell. The separated sets of chromosomes present in telophase nuclei are genetically identical. Meiosis is the type of nuclear division that takes place in germ cells, and it reduces the diploid number of chromosomes to the haploid number. The genetic material is replicated before the onset of meiosis, so each chromosome consists of two sister chromatids. The first meiotic division is the reductional division, which reduces the chromosome number by half. The homologous chromosomes first pair (synapsis) and then, at anaphase I, separate. The resulting products contain chromosomes that consist of two chromatids attached to a common centromere. However, as a result of crossing-over, which takes place in prophase I, the chromatids may not be genetically identical along their entire length. In the second meiotic (equational) division, the centromeres divide and the homologous chromatids separate. The end result of meiosis is the formation of four genetically different haploid nuclei. 64
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65 A distinctive feature of meiosis is the synapsis, or side-by-side pairing, of homologous chromosomes in the zygotene substage of prophase I. During the pachytene substage, the paired chromosomes become connected by chiasmata (the physical manifestations of crossing-over) and do not separate until anaphase I. This separation is called disjunction (unjoining), and failure of chromosomes to separate is called nondis- junction. Nondisjunction results in a gamete that contains either two copies or no copies of a particular chromosome. Meiosis is the physical basis of the segregation and independent assortment of genes. In Drosophila , an unexpected pattern of inheritance of the X-linked white gene was shown to be accompanied by nondisjunction of the X chromosome; these observations gave experimental proof of the chromosome theory of heredity.
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