Impact of transposable elements in the evolution of plant genomes

    Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


    Transposable elements are genetic elements that have the capacity to modify their position within the genome. As a consequence, they impact the evolution of genomes by inactivating or altering host genes and by providing new gene functions. Transposons account for an important fraction of all sequenced genomes. The goal of the work presented in this dissertation is to investigate the diverse impacts of transposons on gene and genome evolution in different plant species. The transposon content has been analyzed in melon and cucumber, two closely related species. The results suggest that transposons have proliferated to a greater extend in melon, causing an increase of its genome size. Transposable elements are usually not homogenously distributed and tend to accumulate in heterochromatic pericentromeric regions. This is also the case of melon and cucumber genomes. Interestingly, the results presented show that transposons have expanded the pericentromeric regions in melon, showing that transposons can modify the structure of genomes. The number of plant reference genomes made available and the number of varieties resequenced is growing exponentially, and this is allowing to study the correlation between genetic and phenotypic variations. The purpose of the work summarized in the second part of this dissertation is to analyze the impact of transposons in crop genomes by detecting polymorphisms due to the presence or absence of transposon at a given locus, comparing one resequenced variety respect to the reference genome. The analysis of transposon-related polymorphism insertions has been performed in three different species: melon, date palm and Physcomitrella patens. The results obtained can help to identify the transposon families recently active and to provide new information on genetic polymorphisms that can be linked to traits selected during the recent evolution of these three species. In order to study the impact of transposition on gene regulation, the work reported in the third part of this dissertation focuses on the capacity of transposons to amplify and redistribute transcription factor binding sites. The results show that some MITE families have amplified and redistributed the binding sites of E2F transcription factor during Brassica evolution. The goal of this study was to assess the impact of E2F binding sites located within a transposon in reprogramming gene regulation on the E2F transcriptional network. The results obtained have determined that E2F binding sites located within transposons have the capacity to bind E2F transcription factor in vivo, regardless the epigenetic mark context. Moreover, transposons have become a useful genetic tool to generate mutant collections in animals and plants due to the capacity to insert copies into the genome. In plants, some retrotransposons have been shown to integrate preferentially near genes making them particularly interesting for mutagenesis. Among them, the tobacco retrotransposon Tnt1 has been used to generate mutants in different plant species. The last part of this dissertation consists in analyzing the capacity of the tobacco retrotransposon Tnt1 to transpose in the moss Physcomitrella patens. It shows that Tnt1 efficiently transposes in P. patens and inserts preferentially in genic regions. This work presents Tnt1-derived vectors designed for high efficiency transposition that could be used to generate stable insertion mutant collections in this bryophyte species.
    Date of Award28 Jul 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG)
    SupervisorRoser Tolra Perez (Tutor) & Josep Casacuberta Suñer (Director)

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