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Rare transposable elements challenge the prevailing view of transposition dynamics in plants


Stritt, Christoph; Thieme, Michael; Roulin, Anne C (2021). Rare transposable elements challenge the prevailing view of transposition dynamics in plants. American Journal of Botany, 108(8):1310-1314.

Abstract

Transposable elements (TEs) in plants are best known for their ability to inflate genome size and their potential effects on host phenotypes. In this essay, we suggest that many TEs do none of these things, but survive and replicate inconspicuously in the host genome. Transposable elements are frequently depicted as “invasive” sequences with a tendency to replicate in “bursts” as soon as the silencing mechanisms keeping them in check are relaxed. While massive amplifications do occur and have intriguing consequences, this way of thinking about TEs, guided by analogies from horizontally transmitted pathogens, can be misleading. By means of the example of Alesia elements—a retrotransposon lineage present at low copy numbers throughout angiosperms—we propose a scenario of vertical descent in which TEs are maintained in evolution not because of their ability to invade and amplify, but because they have evolved strategies to persist at low copy numbers. Studying the adaptive traits of rare TEs across species promises intriguing insights into the world of intragenomic conflict and a more nuanced view of transposition dynamics in plants.

Abstract

Transposable elements (TEs) in plants are best known for their ability to inflate genome size and their potential effects on host phenotypes. In this essay, we suggest that many TEs do none of these things, but survive and replicate inconspicuously in the host genome. Transposable elements are frequently depicted as “invasive” sequences with a tendency to replicate in “bursts” as soon as the silencing mechanisms keeping them in check are relaxed. While massive amplifications do occur and have intriguing consequences, this way of thinking about TEs, guided by analogies from horizontally transmitted pathogens, can be misleading. By means of the example of Alesia elements—a retrotransposon lineage present at low copy numbers throughout angiosperms—we propose a scenario of vertical descent in which TEs are maintained in evolution not because of their ability to invade and amplify, but because they have evolved strategies to persist at low copy numbers. Studying the adaptive traits of rare TEs across species promises intriguing insights into the world of intragenomic conflict and a more nuanced view of transposition dynamics in plants.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
08 Research Priority Programs > Evolution in Action: From Genomes to Ecosystems
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Life Sciences > Genetics
Life Sciences > Plant Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Plant Science, Genetics, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 August 2021
Deposited On:11 Oct 2021 13:17
Last Modified:27 Jan 2024 02:40
Publisher:Botanical Society of America
ISSN:0002-9122
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ajb2.1709
PubMed ID:34415576
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)