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A chiasma (plural: chiasmata), in genetics, is thought to be the point where two homologous non-sister chromatids exchange genetic material during chromosomal crossover during meiosis (sister chromatids also form chiasmata between each other, but because their genetic material is identical, it does not cause any change in the resulting daughter cells). The chiasmata become visible during the diplotene stage of prophase I of meiosis, but the actual "crossing-over" of genetic material is thought to occur during the previous pachytene stage. When each bivalent, which is composed of two pairs of sister chromatids, begins to split, the only points of contact are at the chiasmata.

chiasma frequency = 2 x recombination frequency

where recombination frequency is:

recombination frequency = (no. of recombinants) / (total no. of progeny)

The phenomenon of genetic chiasmata (chiasmatypie) was discovered and described in 1909 by Frans Alfons Janssens, a professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium. [1] A bivalent refers to the two homologous chromosomes (4 chromatids). The chiasmata refers to the actual break of the phosphodiester bond during crossing over. The larger the number of map units between the genes, the more crossing over occurs.


  1. ^ Elof Axel Carlson, Mendel's Legacy: The Origin of Classical Genetics, CSHL Press, 2004, ISBN 0879696753, p.xvii

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