Updating the maize karyotype by chromosome DNA sizing
The karyotype is a basic concept regarding the genome, fundamentally described by the number and morphological features of all chromosomes. Chromosome class, centromeric index, intra- and interchromosomal asymmetry index, and constriction localization are important in clinical, systematic and evolutionary approaches. In spite of the advances in karyotype characterization made over the last years, new data about the chromosomes can be generated from quantitative methods, such as image cytometry. Therefore, using Zea mays L., this study aimed to update the species’ karyotype by supplementing information on chromosome DNA sizing. After adjustment of the procedures, chromosome morphometry and class as well as knob localization enabled describing the Z. mays karyotype. In addition, applying image cytometry, DNA sizing was unprecedentedly measured for the arms and satellite of all chromosomes. This way, unambiguous identification of the chromosome pairs, and hence the assembly of 51 karyograms, were only possible after the DNA sizing of each chromosome, their arms and satellite portions. These accurate, quantitative and reproducible data also enabled determining the distribution and variation of DNA content in each chromosome. From this, a correlation between DNA amount and total chromosome length evidenced that the mean DNA content of chromosome 9 was higher than that of chromosome 8. The chromosomal DNA sizing updated the Z. mays karyotype, providing insights into its dynamic genome with regards to the organization of the ten chromosomes and their respective portions. Considering the results and the relevance of cytogenetics in the current scenario of comparative sequencing and genomics, chromosomal DNA sizing should be incorporated as an additional parameter for karyotype definition. Based on this study, it can be affirmed that cytogenetic approaches go beyond the simple morphological description of chromosomes.