Transposable Elements As a Molecular Evolutionary Force



ABSTRACT: This essay addresses the paradoxes of the complex and highly redundant genomes. The central theses developed are that: (1) the distinctive feature of complex genomes is the existence of epigenetic mechanisms that permit extremely high levels of both tandem and dispersed redundancy; (2) the special contribution of transposable elements is to modularize the genome; and (3) the labilizing forces of recombination and transposition are just barely contained, giving a dynamic genetic system of ever increasing complexity that verges on the chaotic.