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Mol Gen Genet. 1996 Feb 25;250(3):305-15.

The Ty1-copia group retrotransposons in Vicia species: copy number, sequence heterogeneity and chromosomal localisation.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK.


We present an in-depth study of the Ty1-copia group of retrotransposons within the plant genus Vicia, which contains species with widely differing genome sizes. We have compared the numbers and sequence heterogeneities of these genetic elements in three diploid Vicia species chosen to represent large (V. faba, 1C = 13.3 pg), medium (V. melanops, 1C = 11.5 pg) and small (V. sativa, 1C = 2.3 pg) genomes within the genus. The copy numbers of the retrotransposons are all high but vary greatly, with V. faba containing approximately 10(6) copies, V. melanops about 1000 copies and V. sativa 5000 copies. The degree of sequence heterogeneity of Ty1-copia group elements correlates with their copy number within each genome, but neither heterogeneity nor copy number are related to the genome size of the host. In situ hybridization to metaphase chromosomes shows that the retrotransposons in V.faba are distributed throughout all chromosomes but are much less abundant in certain heterochromatic regions. These results are discussed in the context of plant retrotransposon evolution.

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