Early stages of meiotic prophase are characterized by complex and dramatic chromosome dynamics. Chromosome behavior during this period is associated with several critical meiotic processes that take place at the molecular level, such as recombination and homologous chromosome recognition and pairing. Studies to characterize specific patterns of chromosome dynamics and to identify their exact roles in the progression of meiotic prophase are only just beginning in plants. These studies are facilitated by advances in imaging technology in the recent years, including development of ultra-resolution three-dimensional and live microscopy methods. Studies conducted so far indicate that different chromosome regions exhibit different dynamics patterns in early prophase. In many species telomeres cluster at the nuclear envelope at the beginning of zygotene forming the telomere bouquet. The bouquet has been traditionally thought to facilitate chromosome pairing by bringing chromosome ends into close proximity, but recent studies suggest that its main role may rather be facilitating rapid movements of chromosomes during zygotene. In some species, including wheat and Arabidopsis, there is evidence that centromeres form pairs (couple) before the onset of pairing of chromosome arms. While significant advances have been achieved in elucidating the patterns of chromosome behavior in meiotic prophase I, factors controlling chromosome dynamics are still largely unknown and require further studies.

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