Biology Faculty Articles

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Chromosome Research


Vigna unguiculata, Molecular cytogenetics, Retrotransposon, Centromere





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Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) is an important legume, particularly in developing countries. However, little is known about its genome or chromosome structure. We used molecular cytogenetics to characterize the structure of pachytene chromosomes to advance our knowledge of chromosome and genome organization of cowpea. Our data showed that cowpea has highly distinct chromosomal structures that are cytologically visible as brightly DAPI-stained heterochromatic regions. Analysis of the repetitive fraction of the cowpea genome present at centromeric and pericentromeric regions confirmed that two retrotransposons are major components of pericentromeric regions and that a 455-bp tandem repeat is found at seven out of 11 centromere pairs in cowpea. These repeats likely evolved after the divergence of cowpea from common bean and form chromosomal structure unique to cowpea. The integration of cowpea genetic and physical chromosome maps reveals potential regions of suppressed recombination due to condensed heterochromatin and a lack of pairing in a few chromosomal termini. This study provides fundamental knowledge on cowpea chromosome structure and molecular cytogenetics tools for further chromosome studies.


Open Access.This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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