Distinct chromosomal distributions of highly repetitive sequences in maize

Chromosome Res. 2007;15(1):33-49. doi: 10.1007/s10577-006-1102-1.


The majority of genomic DNA in most plant species is made up of repetitive elements including satellites and retrotransposons. The maize genome is intermediate in size and abundance of repetitive elements between small genomes such as Arabidopsis and rice and larger genomes such as wheat. Although repetitive elements are present throughout the maize genome, individual families are non-randomly distributed along chromosomes. In this work we use fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) to examine the distribution of abundant LTR retroelement families and satellites contained in heterochromatic blocks called knobs. Different retroelement families have distinct patterns of hybridization. Prem1 and Tekay, two very closely related elements, both hybridize along the length of all chromosomes but do so with greater intensity near the centromeres, although subtle differences are detectable between the hybridization patterns. Opie, Prem2/Ji, and Huck are enriched away from the centromeres and Grande is distributed uniformly along the chromosomes. Double labeling with proximally and distally enriched elements on pachytene chromosomes produces alternating blocks of element enrichment. The maize elements hybridized in the same general patterns to chromosomes of maize relatives including Zea diploperennis and Tripsacum dactyloides. Additionally, abundant Tripsacum LTR retroelements are enriched in similar chromosomal regions among the different species. The 180 bp knob satellite is present in large blocks at interstitial locations on chromosome arms. With long exposures, smaller sites of hybridization are detected at the ends of chromosomes, adjacent to the telomere tract. This distal position for knob satellites is conserved among Zea and Tripsacum species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Plant / genetics*
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Poaceae / genetics
  • Retroelements / genetics*
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences / genetics*
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Retroelements