How meiotic cells deal with non-exchange chromosomes

Bioessays. 1994 Feb;16(2):107-14. doi: 10.1002/bies.950160207.


The chromosomes which segregate in anaphase I of meiosis are usually physically bound together through chiasmata. This association is necessary for proper segregation, since univalents sort independently from one another in the first meiotic division and this frequently leads to genetically unbalanced offspring. There are, however, a number of species where genetic exchanges in the form of meiotic cross-overs, the prerequisite of the formation of chiasmata, are routinely missing in one sex or between specific chromosomes. These species nevertheless manage to segregate these non-exchange chromosomes. There are four direct modes for associating achiasmatic chromosomes: (a) modified SC, (b) adhesion of chromatids comparable to somatic pairing, (c) 'stickiness' of heterochromatin or (d) specific 'segregation bodies', consisting of material structurally different from chromatin. There is also the possibility that the spindle-possibly joining forces with the kinetochores--carries out the faithful segregation of univalents which are not directly physically attached to one another. Finally, amphitelic orientation of univalents in metaphase I and pairing of the chromatids in meiosis II appear to ensure correct segregation as well.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaphase
  • Animals
  • Chromatids / physiology
  • Chromosomes / physiology*
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • Crossing Over, Genetic
  • Female
  • Heterochromatin / physiology
  • Male
  • Meiosis*
  • Metaphase
  • Sex Chromosomes / physiology
  • Sex Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • Spindle Apparatus / physiology


  • Heterochromatin