Retroelements contribute to the excess low-copy-number DNA in pine
Excess DNA in the single-copy component is rarely recognized as a contributor to the C-value paradox yet the single-copy component of the pine genome is reported to comprise over 3000 Mb of DNA, in large excess over the estimated 100 Mb required for gene expression. Two hypotheses regarding the factors that might contribute to the excess low-copy-number DNA were tested. The first hypothesis proposes that the excess low-copy kinetic component is actually overestimated by reassociation data analysis. To test this, a previously published C0t curve for Pinus strobus was reanalyzed using a new estimate of genome size based on laser flow cytometry. Part of the excess low-copy-number DNA in the pine genome could be attributed to the choice of parameters used in the analysis of the reassociation data. The second hypothesis holds that diverged retrotransposons contribute to the excess low-copy DNA. Sequences randomly sampled from single-copy and low-repetitive kinetic components of the P. taeda genome were characterized. Twelve of 46 fragments cloned from these fractions were found to show sequence similarity to retroelements; hence diverged retroelements contribute to the excess low-repetitive kinetic component in the pine genome. Similarity search was shown to be a conservative method for identifying retroelements, and thus the number of retroelements in the low-copy component was actually underestimated. Most of the retroelements in this fraction were nonfunctional, divergent from known retroelement families and previously reported only for flowering plants. Divergent retrotransposons are thus a major factor contributing to the expansion of the low-repetitive DNA component in higher plants.
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