In the typical meroistic insect ovary, the oocyte nucleus synthesizes little if any RNA. Nurse cells or trophocytes actively synthesize ribosomes which are transported to and accumulated by the oocyte. In the telotrophic ovary a morphological separation exists, the nurse cells being localized at the apical end of each ovariole and communicating with the ooocytes via nutritive cords. In order to determine whether the genes coding for ribosomal RNA (rRNA) are amplified in the telotrophic ovary of the milkweed bug Oncopeltus fasciatus, the percentages of the genome coding for ribosomal RNA in somatic cells, spermatogenic cells, ovarian follicles, and nurse cells were compared. The oocytes and most of the nurse cells of O. fasciatus are uninucleolate. DNA hybridizing with ribosomal RNA is localized in a satellite DNA, the density of which is 1.712 g/cm(-3). The density of main-band DNA is 1.694 g/cm(-3). The ribosomal DNA satellite accounts for approximately 0.2% of the DNA in somatic and gametogenic tissues of both males and females. RNA-DNA hybridization analysis demonstrates that approximately 0.03% of the DNA in somatic tissues, testis, ovarian follicles, and isolated nurse cells hybridizes with ribosomal RNA. The fact that the percentage of DNA hybridizing with rRNA is the same in somatic and in male and female gametogenic tissues indicates that amplification of ribosomal DNA does not occur in nurse cells and that if it occurs in oocytes, it represents less than a 50-fold increase in ribosomal DNA. An increase in total genome DNA accounted by polyploidization appears to provide for increasing the amount of ribosomal DNA in the nurse cells.

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