Use of retrotransposon-derived genetic markers to analyse genomic variability in plants

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Transposable elements (TEs) are common mobile genetic elements comprising several classes and making up the majority of eukaryotic genomes. The movement and accumulation of TEs has been a major force shaping the genes and genomes of most organisms. Most eukaryotic genomes are dominated by retrotransposons and minimal DNA transposon accumulation. The 'copy and paste' lifecycle of replicative transposition produces new genome insertions without excising the original element. Horizontal TE transfer among lineages is rare. TEs represent a reservoir of potential genomic instability and RNA-level toxicity. Many TEs appear static and nonfunctional, but some are capable of replicating and mobilising to newpositions, and somatic transposition events have been observed. The overall structure of retrotransposons and the domains responsible for the phases of their replication are highly conserved in all eukaryotes. TEs are important drivers of species diversity and exhibit great variety in their structure, size and transposition mechanisms, making them important putative actors in evolution. Because TEs are abundant in plant genomes, various applications have been developed to exploit polymorphisms in TE insertion patterns, including conventional or anchored PCR, and quantitative or digital PCR with primers for the 50 or 30 junction. Alternatively, the retrotransposon junction can be mapped using highthroughput next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics. With these applications, TE insertions can be rapidly, easily and accurately identified, ornewTEinsertions can be found. This review provides an overview of the TE-based applications developed for plant species and assesses the contributions of TEs to the analysis of plants' genetic diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-29
Number of pages15
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Genetic diversity
  • Molecular marker
  • Transposable element

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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