Jumping genes: Genomic ballast or powerhouse of biological diversification

Choudhury, Rimjhim Roy; Parisod, Christian (2017). Jumping genes: Genomic ballast or powerhouse of biological diversification. Molecular Ecology, 26(18), pp. 4587-4590. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1111/mec.14247

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Studying hybridization has the potential to elucidate challenging questions in evolutionary biology such as the nature of adaptive genetic variation and reproductive isolation. A growing body of work highlights that the merging of divergent genomes goes beyond the reshuffling of standing variation from related species and promotes mutations (Abbott et al., 2013). However, to what extent such genome instability generates evolutionary significant variation remains largely elusive. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Dennenmoser et al. (2017) report considerable dynamics of transposable elements (TEs) in a recent invasive fish species of hybrid origin (Cottus; Figure 1). It adds to the recent examples from plants to support TE-specific genome variation following hybridization. Insights from early, as well as established, hybrids are largely coherent with increased TE activity, and this fish system thus represents an inspiring opportunity to further address the possible association between genome dynamics and “rapid evolution of hybrid species.” This work based on genome (re)sequencing contrasts with prior transcriptomics or PCR-based studies of TEs and illustrates how unprecedented amount of information promises a better understanding of the multiple patterns of variation across eukaryotic genomes; provided that we get the better of methodological advances. As discussed here, unbiased assessment of TE variation from genome surveys indeed remains a challenge precluding firm conclusions to be reached about the evolutionary significance of TEs. Despite methodological and conceptual developments that appear necessary to unambiguously uncover the unexplored iceberg below the known tip, the role of coding genes vs. TEs in promoting adaptation and speciation might be clarified in a not so remote future.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Choudhury, Rimjhim Roy and Parisod, Christian Gérard


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)








Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

21 Nov 2017 11:18

Last Modified:

21 Nov 2017 11:18

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