Catastrophic chromosomal restructuring during genome elimination in plants
In a paper in eLife published in May 2105 Han Tan and colleagues report that when Arabidopsis with weakened centromeres is crossed to the wild type, i.e. a plant with normal centromeres, the resulting embryos undergo chromothripsis, the cut-and-reassembly process leading to highly rearranged chromosomes. Because weakened centromeres can occur naturally, this process may contribute to the evolution of new chromosomes types. Additionally, this process can be manipulated genetically to provide a high frequency of haploids, a genetic type that accelerates plant breeding. Last, this provides an experimentally tractable system to study complex rearrangements associated with human diseases. This is a Simon Chan legacy paper.