, Volume 75, Issue 3, pp 325-339

Fungal transposable elements: Generators of diversity and genetic tools

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Representatives of several classes of transposable elements (TEs) have been characterized in a broad range of fungal species. The studies indicate that these elements are ancient and ubiquitous components of fungal genomes. Some of these elements have been shown to actively affect gene structure and function in several ways: inactivation of gene expression upon insertion, modification of the nucleotide sequence through excision, and probably by inducing extensive chromosomal rearrangements. The ability of TEs to generate a high degree of genetic diversity may therefore be important in the evolution of the fungal genome. TEs also have many potential applications in genetic research, including insertional mutagenesis and population fingerprinting, as well as gene transfer within and between species. All these genetic approaches are important as tools in studies of molecular biology and evolution of fungal species, many of which lack a functional sexual cycle.