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Polytene Chromosomes

  1. Igor F Zhimulev,
  2. Dmitry E Koryakov

Published Online: 15 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001183.pub2



How to Cite

Zhimulev, I. F. and Koryakov, D. E. 2009. Polytene Chromosomes. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, SD RAS, Novosibirsk, Russia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2009
Table 1. Occurrence of polytene chromosomes
OrganismOrganType of polyteny
Insects, Diptera  


Salivary glands, gut, midgut, hindgut, gastric caeca, Malpighian tubules, fat bodies, epidermal cells, hypoderm, ring glandClassic type


Malpighian tubules, cardiac wall, fat body, rectum, foot pad cells, bristle-forming cellsClassic type


Malpighian tubules, hindgut, midgut, fat bodyClassic type
 Ovarian nurse cellsClassic or cryptic types. Cryptic types can be transformed to the classic type at the expense of mutations or inbreeding
Insects, CollembolaSalivary glandsCryptic, cryptic–classic, classic types
Protozoa, InfusoriaMacronuclear anlageClassic type
MammalsTrophoblast cellsCryptic, semicryptic
 Tumour cellsCryptic type
PlantsAntipods, suspensors, endosperm, synergids, endosperm haustorium, tissue culture, callus cultureCryptic, can be transformed to classic, e.g. at low temperature
Table 2. Degree of polyteny in some organisms
SpeciesOrganDegree of polyteny (C)
Chironomus plumosusLarval salivary glands1024–4096
Chironomus tentansLarval salivary glands8192–32 768
Drosophila melanogasterLarval salivary glands1024–2048
 Larval midgut512–1024
 Imaginal Malpighian tubules2–256
 Larval fat bodies16–512
 Larval prothoracic gland64–512
 Ovarian nurse cells512–8192
Rhynchosciara angelaeLarval salivary glands4000–16 000
 Larval salivary glands after intracellular microsporidial infection512 000–1 024 000
Mammals, different speciesTrophoblast64–4096
Plants, different speciesSuspensor, haustorium, antipods and synergids2–8192