Meiosis is the foundation of sexual reproduction, and crossover recombination is one hallmark of meiosis. Crossovers establish the physical connections between homolog chromosomes (homologs) for their proper segregation and exchange DNA between homologs to promote genetic diversity in gametes and thus progenies. Aberrant crossover patterns, e.g., absence of the obligatory crossover, are the leading cause of infertility, miscarriage, and congenital disease. Therefore, crossover patterns have to be tightly controlled. During meiosis, loop/axis organized chromosomes provide the structural basis and regulatory machinery for crossover patterning. Accumulating evidence shows that chromosome axis length regulates the numbers and the positions of crossovers. In addition, recent studies suggest that alterations in axis length and the resultant alterations in crossover frequency may contribute to evolutionary adaptation. Here, current advances regarding these issues are reviewed, the possible mechanisms for axis length regulating crossover frequency are discussed, and important issues that need further investigations are suggested.
The loop-axis organization of meiotic chromosomes provides the structural basis for crossover regulation, which contributes to evolutionary adaptation.