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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Mobile DNA
Volume (Issue) 3(1)
Page(s) 2 - 2
Title of proceedings Mobile DNA
DOI 10.1186/1759-8753-3-2

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


UNLABELLED ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND Transposable elements (TEs) are major contributors to genome evolution. One factor that influences their evolutionary dynamics is whether their host reproduces through selfing or through outcrossing. According to the recombinational spreading hypothesis, for instance, TEs can spread more easily in outcrossing species through recombination, and should thus be less abundant in selfing species. We here studied the distribution and evolutionary dynamics of TE families in the predominantly selfing plant Arabidopsis thaliana and its close outcrossing relative Arabidopsis lyrata on a genome-wide scale. We characterized differences in TE abundance between them and asked which, if any, existing hypotheses about TE abundances may explain these differences. RESULTS We identified 1,819 TE families representing all known classes of TEs in both species, and found three times more copies in the outcrossing A. lyrata than in the predominantly selfing A. thaliana, as well as ten times more TE families unique to A. lyrata. On average, elements in A. lyrata are younger than elements in A. thaliana. In particular, A. thaliana shows a marked decrease in element number that occurred during the most recent 10% of the time interval since A. thaliana split from A. lyrata. This most recent period in the evolution of A. thaliana started approximately 500,000 years ago, assuming a splitting time of 5 million years ago, and coincides with the time at which predominant selfing originated. CONCLUSIONS Our results indicate that the mating system may be important for determining TE copy number, and that selfing species are likely to have fewer TEs.