Maize Transposable Element Dynamics
Transposable elements (TEs) are among the most important factors in the evolution of gene and genome structure/function in plants. All plant genomes contain mostly quiescent TEs that are activated, independently by family, in currently unpredictable timeframes by largely unknown phenomena. Different reawakened or horizontally transferred TE families can remain active for as little as a few years to as much as a few million years, and the reasons for these duration-of-activity differences are also not known. The maize lineage has seen extraordinary TE activity, and changes in TE activity, over the last few million years, and much of this dynamic continues to be ongoing. Hence, studies of TE biology have been particularly informative in maize, and will continue to be so. This review describes the history of TE activity over the last few million years in the maize lineage, briefly mentions the extensive literature regarding maize TE regulation, and suggests approaches for characterizing the processes that determine which TEs are active: where, when, how and why.
The author thanks Aye Htun for her assistance with figures. The writing of this manuscript was supported by the Giles Professorship Endowment at the University of Georgia.
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