Length regulation and dynamics of individual telomere tracts in wild-type Arabidopsis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Although length of the telomeric DNA tract varies widely across evolution, a species-specific set point is established and maintained by unknown mechanisms. To investigate how telomere length is controlled in Arabidopsis thaliana, we analyzed bulk telomere length in 14 wild-type accessions. We found that telomere tracts in Arabidopsis are fairly uniformly distributed throughout a size range of 2 to 9 kb. Unexpectedly, telomeres in plants of the Wassilewskija ecotype displayed a bimodal size distribution, with some individuals harboring telomeres of 2 to 5 kb and others telomeres of 4 to 9 kb. F1 and F2 progeny of a cross between long and short telomere parents had intermediate telomeres, implying that telomere length in Arabidopsis is not controlled by a single genetic factor. We provide evidence that although global telomere length is strictly regulated within an ecotype-specific range, telomere tracts on individual chromosome ends do not occupy a predetermined length territory. We also demonstrate that individual telomere tracts on homologous chromosomes are coordinately regulated throughout development and that telomerase acts preferentially on the shortest telomeres. We propose that an optimal size for telomere tracts is established and maintained for each Arabidopsis ecotype.

published proceedings

  • Plant Cell

author list (cited authors)

  • Shakirov, E. V., & Shippen, D. E.

citation count

  • 86

complete list of authors

  • Shakirov, Eugene V||Shippen, Dorothy E

publication date

  • August 2004