The success of an organism is contingent upon its ability to transmit genetic material through meiotic cell division. In plant meiosis I, the process begins in a large spherical cell without physical cues to guide the process. Yet two microtubule-based structures, the spindle and phragmoplast, divide the chromosomes and the cell with extraordinary accuracy. Using a live-cell system and fluorescently labeled spindles and chromosomes, we found that the process self corrects as meiosis proceeds. Metaphase spindles frequently initiate division off-center, and in these cases anaphase progression is asymmetric with the two masses of chromosomes traveling unequal distances on the spindle. The asymmetry is compensatory, such that the chromosomes on the side of the spindle that is farthest from the cell cortex travel a longer distance at a faster rate. The phragmoplast forms equidistant between the telophase nuclei rather than at the original spindle mid-zone. This asymmetry in chromosome movement implies a structural difference between the two halves of a bipolar spindle, and may allow meiotic cells to dynamically adapt to metaphase errors and accurately divide the cell volume.
- Received July 8, 2016.
- Accepted September 5, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd