The Botanical Review

, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 273–289 | Cite as

Robertsonian fusion and centric fission in karyotype evolution of higher plants

  • Keith Jones


Robertsonian fusion and centric fission are uniquely detectable in comparative studies of karyotype patterns. They are the most important types of karyotype change in animals but seem to be relatively uncommon in higher plants. Both modify intra- and interchromosomal recombination and linkage relationships and consequently patterns of genetic variation. When differentiating populations or species they can produce postulating barriers to gene flow. The number of reported cases of fusion or fission in higher plants has increased over the years but remains low, and most of these are casual comparisons of karyotypes without any follow-up investigation. This review focuses on more adequate studies made in a few groups.

Studies in the Tradescantieae produce the strongest evidence for fusion as a type of orthoselection in the subfamily. Some species ofLycoris are also considered to have evolved their karyotypes in that way. Some genera of slipper orchids and the cycad genusZamia have populations where atypical chromosome number increase can be attributed to fission probably as a result of stressful influences.

It is suggested that fusion may have been involved in the evolution of many stable karyotypes and that fission is generally a secondary destabilizing mechanism which may lead to refusion in the long term. Their proven incidence remains making it unwise to suggest that they have been major influences in karyotype evolution in higher plants.


Chromosome Number Botanical Review Basic Number Chromosome Evolution Chiasma Frequency 
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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Jodrell LaboratoryRoyal Botanic GardensRichmondUK

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