Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 69–79 | Cite as

Retroelements, transposons and methylation status in the genome of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) and the relationship to somaclonal variation

  • Sybille E. KubisEmail author
  • Alexandra M.M.F. Castilho
  • Alexander V. Vershinin
  • John Seymour (Pat) Heslop-Harrison


We isolated and characterized different classes of transposable DNA elements in oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) plants grown from seed, and plants regenerated from tissue culture that show mantling, an abnormality leading to flower abortion. Using PCR assays, reverse transcriptase fragments belonging to LINE-like and gypsy-like retroelements and transposase fragments of En/Spm transposons were cloned. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of a major family of LINEs in oil palm, with other diverged copies. Gypsy-like retrotransposons form a single homologous group, whereas En/Spm transposons are present in several diverged families. Southern analysis revealed their presence in low (LINEs) to medium (gypsy and En/Spm) copy numbers in oil palm, and in situ hybridization showed a limited number of distinct loci for each class of transposable element. No differences in the genomic organization of the different classes of transposable DNA elements between ortet palm (parent) and regenerated palm trees with mantled phenotype were detected, but different levels of sequence methylation were observed. During tissue culture, McrBC digestion revealed the genome-wide reduction in DNA methylation, which was restored to near-normal levels in regenerated trees. HPLC analysis showed that methylation levels were slightly lower in the regenerated trees compared to the ortet parent. The genomic organization of the transposable DNA elements in different oil palm species, accessions and individual regenerated trees was investigated revealing only minor differences. The results suggest that the mantled phenotype is not caused by major rearrangements of transposable elements but may relate to changes in the methylation pattern of other genomic components.

En/Spm transposon methylation oil palm (Elaeis guineensisretrotransposons somaclonal variation 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sybille E. Kubis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alexandra M.M.F. Castilho
    • 2
  • Alexander V. Vershinin
    • 3
  • John Seymour (Pat) Heslop-Harrison
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  2. 2.ITQBOeirasPortugal
  3. 3.Institute of Cytology and GeneticsNovosibirskRussia

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