Maize chromosomal knobs are located in gene-dense areas and suppress local recombination

Chromosoma. 2013 Mar;122(1-2):67-75. doi: 10.1007/s00412-012-0391-8. Epub 2012 Dec 9.


Knobs are conspicuous heterochromatic regions found on the chromosomes of maize and its relatives. The number, locations, and sizes of knobs vary dramatically, with most lines containing between four and eight knobs in mid-arm positions. Prior data suggest that some knobs may reduce recombination. However, comprehensive tests have not been carried out, primarily because most knobs have not been placed on the genetic map. We used fluorescent in situ hybridization and two recombinant inbred populations to map seven knobs and to accurately place three knobs from the B73 inbred on the genomic sequence assembly. The data show that knobs lie in gene-dense regions of the maize genome. Comparisons to 23 other recombinant inbred populations segregating for knobs at the same sites confirm that large knobs can locally reduce crossing over by as much as twofold on a cM/Mb scale. These effects do not extend beyond regions ~10 cM to either side of knobs and do not appear to affect linkage disequilibrium among genes within and near knob repeat regions of the B73 RefGen_v2 assembly.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Plant / genetics*
  • DNA, Plant
  • Heterochromatin / genetics*
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Zea mays


  • DNA, Plant
  • Heterochromatin