Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
REVIEW

Goldacre Paper:Understanding meiosis and the implications for crop improvement

Jason A. Able A C , Wayne Crismani A and Scott A. Boden A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, PMB1, Glen Osmond, South Australia 5064, Australia.

B Present address: The John Innes Centre, Colney Lane, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK.

C Corresponding author. Email: jason.able@adelaide.edu.au

This paper originates from the Peter Goldacre Award 2008 of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists, received by the first author.

Functional Plant Biology 36(7) 575-588 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP09068
Submitted: 27 March 2009  Accepted: 1 May 2009   Published: 2 July 2009

Abstract

Over the past 50 years, the understanding of meiosis has aged like a fine bottle of wine: the complexity is developing but the wine itself is still young. While emphasis in the plant kingdom has been placed on the model diploids Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana L.) and rice (Orzya sativa L.), our research has mainly focussed on the polyploid, bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Bread wheat is an important food source for nearly two-thirds of the world’s population. While creating new varieties can be achieved using existing or advanced breeding lines, we would also like to introduce beneficial traits from wild related species. However, expanding the use of non-adapted and wild germplasm in cereal breeding programs will depend on the ability to manipulate the cellular process of meiosis. Three important and tightly-regulated events that occur during early meiosis are chromosome pairing, synapsis and recombination. Which key genes control these events in meiosis (and how they do so) remains to be completely answered, particularly in crops such as wheat. Although the majority of published findings are from model organisms including yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, information from the plant kingdom has continued to grow in the past decade at a steady rate. It is with this new knowledge that we ask how meiosis will contribute to the future of cereal breeding. Indeed, how has it already shaped cereal breeding as we know it today?

Additional keywords: Asynapsis1, chromosome pairing, meiosis, Ph1, recombination, synaptonemal complex, wheat.


Acknowledgements

This research was supported in part by the Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre (MPB CRC), the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), and the Australian Government under the Australia–India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF). The authors thank Kelvin Khoo for the images that contributed to Fig. 1. We apologise to those colleagues who have contributed to this field but were not cited due to space constraints and thank the two anonymous referees who provided useful feedback and suggestions for improving the content of the review.


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