March 5-6, 2024
Meiotic recombination is a highly conserved mechanism among sexually reproducing organisms. During meiosis, Spo11-1 initiates a substantial number of programmed double-strand breaks (DSBs), which are subsequently repaired as either crossovers (COs) or non-crossovers (NCOs). COs occur when homologous chromosomes exchange genetic material, and they are indispensable for proper chromosome segregation and the preservation of genomic stability.
In the context of crop improvement, meiotic recombination plays a pivotal role as it generates novel gene combinations for which breeders can select. However, a significant challenge arises because the majority of crossovers tend to occur in the terminal regions of chromosomes. Consequently, numerous genes in both cultivated and wild plants remain inaccessible, residing in recombination-poor areas. This limitation often hampers plant breeding programs aimed at improving crops, as recombination does not occur at the intended genomic locations. Despite extensive research on the subject, the precise regulation of recombination remains poorly understood. A more profound understanding of the meiotic recombination pathway and regulatory processes holds the potential to empower scientists to manipulate recombination, facilitating the creation of specific gene combinations needed for crop improvement.
Furthermore, recent advancements in precise genome editing techniques are opening up opportunities to introduce heritable changes in plant genomes without the risk of off-target effects. When combined with a strategic emphasis on meiotic recombination, these breakthroughs have the potential to significantly enhance crop varieties, addressing the pressing global challenges of food scarcity due to climate change and the ever-growing world population.
Gaganpreet Sidhu, PhD, Research Director, Meiogenix Inc., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
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