Transposable elements and microevolutionary changes in natural populations

Authors

  • Georgi Bonchev,

    1. Laboratory of evolutionary botany, Institute of biology, University of Neuchâtel, CH-2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
    2. Institute of plant physiology and genetics, Bulgarian academy of sciences, Sofia 1113, Bulgaria
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  • Christian Parisod

    Corresponding author
    • Laboratory of evolutionary botany, Institute of biology, University of Neuchâtel, CH-2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
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Correspondence: Christian Parisod, Fax: +41 (0)32 718 3001; E-mail: christian.parisod@unine.ch

Abstract

Transposable elements (TEs) usually represent the most abundant and dynamic fraction of genomes in almost all living organisms. The overall capacity of such ‘junk DNA’ to induce mutations and foster the reorganization of functional genomes suggests that TE may be of central evolutionary significance. However, to what extent TE dynamics drive and is driven by the evolutionary trajectory of host taxa remains poorly known. Further work addressing the fate of TE insertions in natural populations is necessary to shed light on their impact on microevolutionary processes. Here, we highlight methodological approaches (i.e. transposon displays and high-throughput sequencing), tracking TE insertions across large numbers of individuals and discuss their pitfalls and benefits for molecular ecology surveys.

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