The genome is mobile
The importance of transposable elements (TEs) in shaping the genome is discussed. Two main aspects are highlighted; one refers to their capacity for producing mutations; the other emphasises the TEs involvement in genome reorganisation mainly through transduction of genome fragments, production of chromosomal rearrangements, and exon shuffling. This TE dynamics is discussed from the original controversial viewpoint of their role as parasitic, selfish elements (the ‘junk’ DNA hypothesis), challenged from its inception by those who assign to TEs a long-term adaptive role. This chapter presents a suite of examples from genomic studies that bolster that although most probably TEs originally exhibited a parasitic behaviour, this was followed by a process in which TE functions, of which epigenetic regulation is prime, were co-opted by the genome in a domestication process. The chapter ends showing some challenging natural scenarios (i.e. colonisation and hybridisation) that may promote TE mobilisations of far reaching evolutionary effects in adaptation and speciation.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.