Biodiversity is the result of mutations of genomes. A major source of mutation in plants is the mobilization of transposable genetic elements. Transposable elements exist in all plant genomes; often comprising several percents of the total DNA content.
Additionally, copy numbers of particular transposable elements per genome can fluctuate by several orders of magnitude over time scales of a few MYr. Transposable elements are therefore a major contributor (and perhaps THE major contributor) to the generation of genetic biodiversity in plants. Despite this, very little study of the amount of biodiversity caused by transposable elements in plants has yet been attempted. The first goal of this proposal is to measure the genetic biodiversity generated by class I transposable elements (the major plant transposable element family) in several of the most agronomically important crop species to the EEC (Objectives/Work Packages 1-2). Our second goal is to develop class I transposable elements as molecular markers to measure biodiversity and phylogenetic relationships in crop species and their wild relatives (Objectives/ Work Packages 3-5). Certain class I transposable elements should be an excellent source of useful polymorphic markers for genome characterization because they are one of the most mutable components of plant genomes (Objective/Work Packages 4 and 5). Other class I elements are potentially very useful for phylogenetic analysis because they transpose at rates which are similar to speciation rates (Objective/Work Packages 3 and 5).
A large fraction of the worldwide research on plant class I transposable elements has been performed by EC laboratories. Collectively our expertise covers a significant fraction of the well characterised plant class I TEs. The proposed project will bring our laboratories together to tackle shared problem sand address shared goals. The collaborative research proposed here will result in a quantum leap in the efficiency and speed of our individual programs and maintain the lead which Europe holds in this exciting research area.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
NR4 7UH Norwich
DD2 5DA Dundee