Transposable elements and viruses as factors in adaptation and evolution: an expansion and strengthening of the TE-Thrust hypothesis

Authors

  • Keith R. Oliver,

    1. School of Biological Science and Biotechnology, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Murdoch University, Perth, W.A., Australia
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  • Wayne K. Greene

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth, W.A., Australia
    • School of Biological Science and Biotechnology, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Murdoch University, Perth, W.A., Australia
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  • No funding information provided.

Correspondence

Wayne K. Greene, School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth W.A. 6150 Australia. Tel: +61-8-9360 2545; Fax: +61-8-9310 4144; E-mail: W.Greene@murdoch.edu.au

Abstract

In addition to the strong divergent evolution and significant and episodic evolutionary transitions and speciation we previously attributed to TE-Thrust, we have expanded the hypothesis to more fully account for the contribution of viruses to TE-Thrust and evolution. The concept of symbiosis and holobiontic genomes is acknowledged, with particular emphasis placed on the creativity potential of the union of retroviral genomes with vertebrate genomes. Further expansions of the TE-Thrust hypothesis are proposed regarding a fuller account of horizontal transfer of TEs, the life cycle of TEs, and also, in the case of a mammalian innovation, the contributions of retroviruses to the functions of the placenta. The possibility of drift by TE families within isolated demes or disjunct populations, is acknowledged, and in addition, we suggest the possibility of horizontal transposon transfer into such subpopulations. “Adaptive potential” and “evolutionary potential” are proposed as the extremes of a continuum of “intra-genomic potential” due to TE-Thrust. Specific data is given, indicating “adaptive potential” being realized with regard to insecticide resistance, and other insect adaptations. In this regard, there is agreement between TE-Thrust and the concept of adaptation by a change in allele frequencies. Evidence on the realization of “evolutionary potential” is also presented, which is compatible with the known differential survivals, and radiations of lineages. Collectively, these data further suggest the possibility, or likelihood, of punctuated episodes of speciation events and evolutionary transitions, coinciding with, and heavily underpinned by, intermittent bursts of TE activity.

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