Recombination nodule mapping and chiasma distribution in spermatocytes of the pigeon, Columba livia

Genome. 1999 Apr;42(2):308-14. doi: 10.1139/g98-138.


Pigeon spermatocytes were processed with a drying-down technique and their synaptonemal complex (SC) complements were analyzed by electron microscopy. The synaptonemal complex karyotype of the macrobivalents shows an excellent correspondence with the mitotic karyotype. The number and distribution of recombination nodules (RNs) were scored in complete nuclei stained with phosphotungstic acid. The average number of RNs per nucleus is 64.7. The number of nodules per bivalent shows a clear linear relationship with SC length in the 10 longest synaptonemal complexes, while the microbivalents usually bear a single RN. The location of RNs has a non-random distribution along the largest synaptonemal complexes, with lower frequencies near kinetochores and higher frequencies toward the telomeres. The ZZ bivalent is the fourth in size and shows free recombination, having on average 3.8 RNs. The mean number of nodules per cell and the mean number of nodules in the largest bivalents show very good agreement with the corresponding number of chiasmata scored in metaphase-I spermatocytes. It is concluded that the recombination nodules provide a good check for reciprocal exchanges in this and other species of birds. Additionally, a new morphology for the recombination nodules is presented, consisting of groups of electron-dense particles measuring 43 nm in diameter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Columbidae
  • Genome
  • Karyotyping
  • Male
  • Meiosis
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Spermatocytes / physiology
  • Spermatocytes / ultrastructure*
  • Synaptonemal Complex / genetics
  • Synaptonemal Complex / ultrastructure*


  • Biomarkers