Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) contents were determined in 16 maize genotypes whose individual rRNA gene numbers varied from 5000 to 23,000 per 2C nucleus. Analytical polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of total RNA showed that no obvious relation existed between rRNA gene number and rRNA content. Only two of nine common inbred lines contained more rRNA than W-23, the inbred with the lowest rRNA gene number. Two of four lines with altered protein content (due to long-term experimental selection) had rRNA contents significantly reduced from those of W-23. A line with an apparent duplication of the nucleolus organizer region of chromosome 6 (called 2-NOR) was expected to possess an elevated quantity of rRNA because it possesses a larger nucleolus; however, we produced a 2-NOR isogenic version and found no difference in rRNA content. The rRNA genes in maize are distributed throughout the NOR-heterochromatin and the NOR-secondary constriction portions of the NOR. The absence of an obvious correlation between rRNA gene number and cellular rRNA content may reflect the presence of a large number of rRNA genes in an inactive state, at least during the stage of growth examined in these experiments.
- ribosomal RNA
- ribosomal rRNA genes