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Journal of Applied Genetics 48(2), 2007, pp. 99-106

Multicolour FISH in an analysis of chromosome aberrations induced by N-nitroso-N-methylurea and maleic hydrazide in barley cells

Jolanta Juchimiuk, Barbara Hering, Jolanta Maluszynska

Abstract: The present study is a rare example of a detailed characterization of chromosomal aberrations by identification of individual chromosomes (or chromosome arms) involved in their formation in plant cells by using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). In addition, the first application of more than 2 DNA probes in FISH experiments in order to analyse chromosomal aberrations in plant cells is presented. Simultaneous FISH with 5S and 25S rDNA and, after reprobing of preparations, telomeric and centromeric DNA sequences as probes, were used to compare the cytogenetic effects of 2 chemical mutagens: N-nitroso-N-methylurea (MNU) and maleic hydrazide (MH) on root tip meristem cells of Hordeum vulgare (2n = 14). The micronucleus (MN) test combined with FISH allowed the quantitative analysis of the involvement of specific chromosome fragments in micronuclei formation and thus enabled the possible origin of mutagen-induced micronuclei to be explained. Terminal deletions were most frequently caused by MH and MNU. The analysis of the frequency of micronuclei with signals of the investigated DNA probes showed differences between the frequency of MH- and MNU-induced micronuclei with specific signals. The micronuclei with 2 signals, telomeric DNA and rDNA (5S and/or 25S rDNA), were the most frequently observed in the case of both mutagens, but with a higher frequency after treatment with MH (46%) than MNU (37%). Also, 10% of MH-induced micronuclei were characterized by the presence of only telomere DNA sequences, whereas there were almost 3-fold more in the case of MNU-induced micronuclei (28%). Additionally, by using FISH with the same probes, an attempt was made to identify the origin of chromosome fragments in mitotic anaphase.

Key words: barley, centromere, FISH, micronuclei, rDNA, telomere.

Correspondence: J. Juchimiuk, Department of Plant Anatomy and Cytology, University of Silesia, Jagiellonska 28, 40-032 Katowice, Poland; e-mail:

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