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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2007 Apr;10(2):149-55. Epub 2007 Feb 14.

Transposable elements and the plant pan-genomes.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie ed Ambientali, Universita' di Udine, Via delle Scienze 208, I-33100 Udine, Italy.


The comparative sequencing of several grass genomes has revealed that transposable elements are largely responsible for extensive variation in both intergenic and local genic content, not only between closely related species but also among individuals within a species. These observations indicate that a single genome sequence might not reflect the entire genomic complement of a species, and prompted us to introduce the concept of the plant pan-genome, which includes core genomic features that are common to all individuals and a dispensable genome composed of partially shared and/or non-shared DNA sequence elements. Uncovering the intriguing nature of the dispensable genome, namely its composition, origin and function, represents a step forward towards an understanding of the processes that generate genetic diversity and phenotypic variation. The developing view of transcriptional regulation as a complex and modular system, in which long-range interactions and the involvement of transposable elements are frequently observed, lends support to the possibility of an important functional role for the dispensable genome and could make it less dispensable than previously thought.

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