Rapid structural and epigenetic reorganization near transposable elements in hybrid and allopolyploid genomes in Spartina
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- •Transposable elements (TE) induce structural and epigenetic alterations in their host genome, with major evolutionary implications. These alterations are examined here in the context of allopolyploid speciation, on the recently formed invasive species Spartina anglica, which represents an excellent model to contrast plant genome dynamics following hybridization and genome doubling in natural conditions.
- •Methyl-sensitive transposon display was used to investigate the structural and epigenetic dynamics of TE insertion sites for several elements, and to contrast it with comparable genome-wide methyl-sensitive amplified polymorphism analyses.
- •While no transposition burst was detected, we found evidence of major structural and CpG methylation changes in the vicinity of TE insertions accompanying hybridization, and to a lesser extent, genome doubling. Genomic alteration appeared preferentially in the maternal subgenome, and the environment of TEs was specifically affected by large maternal-specific methylation changes, demonstrating that TEs fuel epigenetic alterations at the merging of diverged genomes.
- •Such genome changes indicate that nuclear incompatibilities in Spartina trigger immediate alterations, which are TE-specific with an important epigenetic component. Since most of this reorganization is conserved after genome doubling that produced a fertile invasive species, TEs certainly play a central role in the shock-induced dynamics of the genome during allopolyploid speciation.