DNA content of heterochromatin and euchromatin in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) pachytene chromosomes

Genome. 1996 Feb;39(1):77-82. doi: 10.1139/g96-011.


Lycopersicon esculentum (tomato) has a small genome (2C = 1.90 pg of DNA) packaged in 2n = 2x = 24 small acrocentric to metacentric chromosomes. Like the chromosomes of other members of the family Solanaceae, tomato chromosomes have pericentromeric heterochromatin. To determine the fraction of the tomato genome found in euchromatin versus heterochromatin, we stained pachytene chromosomes from primary microsporocytes with Feulgen and analyzed them by densitometry and image analysis. In association with previously published synaptonemal complex karyotype data for tomato, our results indicate that 77% of the tomato microsporocyte genome is located in heterochromatin and 23% is found in euchromatin. If heterochromatin is assumed to contain few active genes, then the functional genes of the tomato must be concentrated in an effective genome of only 0.22 pg of DNA (1C = 0.95 pg x 0.23 = 0.22 pg). The physical segregation of euchromatin and heterochromatin in tomato chromosomes coupled with the small effective genome size suggests that tomato may be a more useful subject for chromosome walking and gene mapping studies than would be predicted based on its genome size alone. Key words : tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum, genome size, heterochromatin, euchromatin, pachytene chromosomes, synaptonemal complex.