Meiosis in Drosophila males. I. The question of separate conjunctive mechanisms for the XY and autosomal bivalents

Chromosoma. 1994 Sep;103(5):352-6. doi: 10.1007/BF00417883.


The conjunctive mechanism of the XY bivalent is believed to differ from that of the autosomal bivalents in the achiasmate Drosophila melanogaster male. It has been proposed that hypothetical cohesive elements, termed collochores, hold the X and Y chromosomes together at or near their nucleolar organizing regions (NORs) and that collochores are not exhibited by autosomal bivalents. In electron micrographs, unique fibrillar material is observed between the X and Y chromosomes at the synaptic site. Recently, the 240 bp nontranscribed spacer associated with rRNA genes at the NOR has been implicated as the essential DNA sequence for XY pairing. To test whether this DNA sequence is always associated with XY pairing and to determine its relationship to the unique fibrillar material, we studied the XY bivalent in Drosophila simulans. The D. simulans Y chromosome has few, if any, rRNA genes, but does have a large block (3,000 kb or 12,500 copies) of the nontranscribed spacer repeat located at the distal end of its long arm. This is in contrast to the D. melanogaster Y, which has the repeat located among rRNA genes on its short arm. Using light and electron microscopy, we show that the X does indeed pair with the distal end of the long arm of the D. simulans Y. However, no fibrillar material is evident in serial thin sections of the D. simulans XY bivalent, suggesting that this material (in D. melanogaster) may be remnants of the NOR rather than a morphological manifestation of the hypothetical collochores.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • Drosophila / cytology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology*
  • Male
  • Meiosis*
  • Spermatocytes / cytology
  • X Chromosome / ultrastructure*
  • Y Chromosome / ultrastructure*