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The nuclei of plant cells show marked differences in chromatin organisation, related to their DNA content, which ranges from the type with large strands of condensed chromatin (reticulate or chromonematic nuclei) to one with mostly decondensed chromatin (chromocentric or diffuse nuclei). A loosening of the chromatin structure generally occurs in actively metabolising cells, such as differentiating and secretory cells, in relation to their high transcriptional activity. Endoreduplication may occur, especially in plants with a small genome, which increases the availability of nuclear templates, the synthesis of DNA, and probably regulates gene expression. Here we describe structural and quantitative changes of the chromatin and their relationship with transcription that occur in differentiated cells following an increase of their metabolism. The nuclei of root cortical cells of three plants with different 2C DNA content (Allium porrum, Pisum sativum and Lycopersicon esculentm) and their modifications induced by arbuscular mycorrhization, which strongly increase the metabolic activity of colonised cells, are taken as examples.
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