Detailed study of the structure and behaviour of chromosomes in the somatic tissue of twenty-one species of the genusDracaena has been made and the “normal” chromosome numbers of all these species have been reported for the first time in this paper.
The previous and the present records suggest that most of the species possess a number of chromosomal biotypes. These biotypes mainly differ with respect to their chromosome numbers.
Relationship between species showing multiples of different series of chromosome numbers, viz. eight, ten, thirteen, seventeen and nineteen has been indicated.
On the basis of the fact that a general resemblance in gross morphology of chromosomes and similarity in total amount of chromatin length are present amongst different species of the genusDracaena, it has been suggested that the species of this genus represent a homogeneous assemblage in spite of the fact that inconstancy in chromosome number is noted within a species.
The different lines have mainly been assumed to have come out through continued production of aneuploid numbers during evolution. The presence of a number of chromosomal biotypes indicates that such aneuploid numbers often arise.
Minor differences in details of chromosome morphology, and the presence of super-numerary constrictions in certain species, have been regarded as proving that structural changes of chromosomes have also played a distinct role in evolution of the species.
As the different species ofDracaena are propagated exclusively through vegetative means, the only explanation for the origin of biotypes which can be suggested is that the recorded variant nuclei enter into the formation of new daughter shoots from which new individuals originate with different genomic constitutions. As flowers are scarcely noted and sexual reproduction is entirely ineffective with respect to propagation, this seems to be the only way through which speciation is effected here.
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