In Allium ursinum meiotic pairing of homologues is always incomplete; a proximal region on each bivalent remains regularly unsynapsed even in late pachytene. The spatial correlation of the unsynapsed region with the kinetochore suggests that the kinetochore itself exerts an inhibitory effect on synapsis in its vicinity. This can be interpreted as the cytological basis of the ‘centromere effect’ on recombination in this species. Moreover, the high incidence of a pericentric inversion loop in a heterozygous chromosome pair shows that proximal pairing initiation is possible and that its failure cannot be responsible for pericentric asynapsis. The formation of the inversion loop is complicated by the need for two independent pairing initiation sites because synapsis cannot proceed across the pericentric region. It is proposed that the meiotic bouquet polarization helps in establishing the presynaptic alignment of the homologous sites within the inverted regions and hence to achieve a high rate of inversion loop formation. Thickenings of the axial/lateral elements are not distributed equally along the synaptonemal complex. They are underrepresented in unpaired axes but strikingly abundant at the borders with synapsed regions, suggesting their origin in the pairing forks during the process of synapsis. They are virtually always present at nucleolus-organizing regions and often they appear at corresponding sites on opposite lateral elements. Besides the thickenings several other kinds of axial deformities are present in unpaired axes.

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