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The Dynamic GenomeA Darwinian Approach$
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Antonio Fontdevila

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199541379

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541379.001.0001

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The genome is mobile

The genome is mobile

Chapter:
(p.80) Chapter 3 The genome is mobile
Source:
The Dynamic Genome
Author(s):

Antonio Fontdevila

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541379.003.0003

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.

Keywords:   transposable elements, transduction, chromosomal rearrangements, exon shuffling, junk DNA, epigenetic regulation, co-option, colonisation, hybridisation, adaptation

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