The holocentric species Luzula elegans shows interplay between centromere and large-scale genome organization


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In higher plants, the large-scale structure of monocentric chromosomes consists of distinguishable eu- and heterochromatic regions, the proportions and organization of which depend on a species' genome size. To determine whether the same interplay is maintained for holocentric chromosomes, we investigated the distribution of repetitive sequences and epigenetic marks in the woodrush Luzula elegans (3.81 Gbp/1C). Sixty-one per cent of the L. elegans genome is characterized by highly repetitive DNA, with over 30 distinct sequence families encoding an exceptionally high diversity of satellite repeats. Over 33% of the genome is composed of the Angela clade of Ty1/copia LTR retrotransposons, which are uniformly dispersed along the chromosomes, while the satellite repeats occur as bands whose distribution appears to be biased towards the chromosome termini. No satellite showed an almost chromosome-wide distribution pattern as expected for a holocentric chromosome and no typical centromere-associated LTR retrotransposons were found either. No distinguishable large-scale patterns of eu- and heterochromatin-typical epigenetic marks or early/late DNA replicating domains were found along mitotic chromosomes, although super-high-resolution light microscopy revealed distinguishable interspersed units of various chromatin types. Our data suggest a correlation between the centromere and overall genome organization in species with holocentric chromosomes.