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Lynette Brownfield, Jun Yi, Hua Jiang, Elena A Minina, David Twell, and Claudia Köhler., Nat Commun, 2015 vol. 6 p. 6492.
Meiosis, the special cell division in sexual reproduction, halves the chromosome number in the gametes. The chromosome number is then restored when two gametes join at fertilization. We have been working on a mutant plant that lacks a single gene and produces many male gametes in which the chromosome number has not been reduced in meiosis, giving rise to offspring with more chromosomes than the parents. In this paper we explore the cellular mechanism leading to these unreduced gametes. Male meiosis in many plants is unusual because two chromosome separations occur in a single cell. We found that in our mutant plant, the two spindles, the machinery that pulls the chromosomes apart, were commonly much closer than in non-mutant plants. The spindles were not the only thing not in the right place. In non-mutant plants there is a band of cellular material, called organelles, between the two spindles, but this band is missing in the mutant. By careful analysis of the timing of events and showing that the missing protein is located in the band, we were able to conclude that the organelle band is required to keep the spindles separated and prevent chromosomes from different spindles being included in one, unreduced cell.