Defining the Mobilome

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Abstract

This chapter defines the agents that provide for the movement of genetic material which fuels the adaptive potential of life on our planet. The chapter has been structured to be broadly comprehensive, arbitrarily categorizing the mobilome into four classes: (1) transposons, (2) plasmids, (3) bacteriophage, and (4) self-splicing molecular parasites.

Our increasing understanding of the mobilome is as dynamic as the mobilome itself. With continuing discovery, it is clear that nature has not confined these genomic agents of change to neat categories, but rather the classification categories overlap and intertwine. Massive sequencing efforts and their published analyses are continuing to refine our understanding of the extent of the mobilome. This chapter provides a framework to describe our current understanding of the mobilome and a foundation on which appreciation of its impact on genome evolution can be understood.