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Genetica. 2002 May;115(1):29-36.

Mechanisms and rates of genome expansion and contraction in flowering plants.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1392 USA.


Plant genomes are exceptional for their great variation in genome size, an outcome derived primarily from their frequent polyploid origins and from the amplification of retrotransposons. Although most studies of plant genome size variation have focused on developmental or physiological effects of nuclear DNA content that might influence plant fitness, more recent studies have begun to investigate possible mechanisms for plant genome expansion and contraction. Analyses of 'relatively neutral' genome components, like transposable elements, have been particularly fruitful, largely due to the enormous growth in genomic sequence information from many different plant species. Current data suggest that unequal recombination can slow the growth in genome size caused by retrotransposon amplification, but that illegitimate recombination and other deletion processes may be primarily responsible for the removal of non-essential DNA from small genome plants.

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