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Keywords:

  • rRNA genes;
  • retrotransposable elements;
  • reverse transcription;
  • non-autonomous element;
  • molecular evolution

Abstract

Sequencing reads from the Nasonia genome project were used to study the ribosomal RNA gene loci and the retrotransposons R1 and R2 that insert specifically into the 28S genes. Five highly divergent R1 and five highly divergent R2 families were identified in the three sequenced species, as well as a non-autonomous element that appears to use the retrotransposition machinery of R1. A duplication of the R1 target site within the spacer region of the rDNA units was also found to be extensively utilized by R1 elements. We document numerous instances where the R1 and R2 families appropriated parts of the retrotransposition machinery of other lineages and speculate that this enables rapid adaptation and the maintenance of multiple R1 and R2 families.