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Mol Biol Evol. 2002 Aug;19(8):1218-27.

Retrotransposons and genomic stability in populations of the young allopolyploid species Spartina anglica C.E. Hubbard (Poaceae).

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  • 1Population, Species and Evolution Lab., UMR CNRS 6553, University of Rennes 1. Campus Scientifique de Beaulieu, Rennes Cedex, France.


Spartina x townsendii arose during the end of the 19th century in England by hybridization between the indigenous Spartina maritima and the introduced Spartina alterniflora, native to the eastern seaboard of North America. Duplication of the hybrid genome gave rise to Spartina anglica, a vigorous allopolyploid involved in natural and artificial invasions on several continents. This system allows investigation of the early evolutionary changes that accompany stabilization of new allopolyploid species. Because allopolyploidy may be a genomic shock, eliciting retroelement insertional activity, we examined whether retrotransposons present in the parental species have been activated in the genome of S. anglica. For this purpose we used inter-retrotransposon amplified polymorphism (IRAP) and retrotransposons-microsatellite amplified polymorphism (REMAP) markers, which are multilocus PCR-based methods detecting retrotransposon integration events in the genome. IRAP and REMAP allowed the screening of insertional polymorphisms in populations of S. anglica. The populations are composed mainly of one major multilocus genotype, identical to the first-generation hybrid S. x townsendii. Few new integration sites were encountered in the young allopolyploid genome. We also found strict additivity of the parental subgenomes in the allopolyploid. Both these findings indicate that the genome of S. anglica has not undergone extensive changes since its formation. This contrasts with previous results from the literature, which report rapid structural changes in experimentally resynthesized allopolyploids.

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