Sister chromatid cores, kinetochores and the connecting strand between sister kinetochores were differentially silver stained to analyse the behaviour of these structures during meiosis in normal and two spontaneous desynaptic individuals of Chorthippus jucundus (Orthoptera). In these desynaptic individuals most of the chromosomes appear as univalents and orient equationally in the first meiotic division. Despite this abnormal segregation pattern, the changes in chromosome structure follow the same timing as in normal individuals and seem to be strictly phase dependent. Chromosomes in the first prometaphase have associated sister kinetochores and sister chromatid cores that lie in the chromosome midline; we propose that this promotes the initial monopolar orientation of chromosomes. However, the requirements of tension for stable attachment to the spindle force the autosomal univalents to acquire amphitelic orientation. Sister kinetochores behave in a chromosome orientation-dependent manner and, in the first metaphase, they appear to be interconnected by a strand that can be detected by silver impregnation, as seen in the second metaphase of wild-type individuals. The disappearance of the sister kinetochore-connecting strand, needed for equational chromatid segregation, however, can only take place in the second meiotic division. This connecting strand is ultimately responsible for the inability of chromosomes to segregate sister chromatids in the first anaphase.
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Acknowledgements. We would like to acknowledge the critical reading and valuable discussions of Prof. C. de la Torre and the skilful photographic work of J.L. Marcilla. We also thank the Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid for a grant supporting J.F.G.A., and EMBO for a fellowship awarded to D.J.C.