2D morphometric analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana nuclei reveals characteristic profiles of different cell types and accessions

Pavlova, Penka; Zanten, Martijn van; Snoek, Basten L.; Jong, Hans de; Fransz, Paul


Functional changes of cells upon developmental switches and in response to environmental cues are often reflected in nuclear phenotypes, showing distinctive chromatin states corresponding to transcriptional changes. Such characteristic nuclear shapes have been microscopically monitored and can be quantified after differential staining of euchromatin and heterochromatin domains. Here, we examined several nuclear parameters (size, DNA content, DNA density, chromatin compaction, relative heterochromatin fraction (RHF), and number of chromocenters) in relation to spatial distribution of genes and transposon elements (TEs), using standard 2D fluorescence microscopy. We provide nuclear profiles for different cell types and different accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana. A variable, yet significant, fraction of TEs was found outside chromocenters in all cell types, except for guard cells. The latter cell type features nuclei with the highest level of chromatin compaction, while their chromocenters seem to contain gene-rich regions. The highest number of parameter correlations was found in the accession Cvi, whereas Ler showed only few correlations. This may point at differences in phenotype robustness between accessions. The significantly high association of NOR chromocenters in accessions Ws and Cvi corresponds to their low RHF level.