The Tyl-copia group retrotransposon populations of barley (Hordeum vulgare) and bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) have been characterised by degenerate PCR and sequence analysis of fragments of the reverse transcriptase genes. The barley population is comprised of a highly heterogeneous set of retrotransposons, together with a collection of sequences that are closely related to the BARE-1 element. Wheat also contains a highly diverse Tyl-copia retrotransposon population, together with a less prominent BARE-1 subgroup. These data have been combined with previously published Gramineae sequences to construct a composite phylogenetic tree for this class of retrotransposons in cereal grasses. The analysis indicates that the ancestral Gramineae genome contained a heterogeneous population of Tyl-copia group retrotransposons, the descendants of which have proliferated to differing degrees in present-day species. Lastly, the level of recent transpositional activity of two Tyl-copia elements has been estimated by measuring their insertional polymorphism within species. Both transposons are highly polymorphic within all species tested. These data suggest that transposition proficiency may be a common and evolutionarily stable feature of the Tyl-copia group retrotransposons of cereal grasses.
- Transposable element
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