Fast & Furious: How jumping genes pump up diversity
Institute of Plant Science Paris-Saclay (IPS2), Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Transposable elements (TEs) are ubiquitous DNA sequences that can ‘jump’ from one place on a genome to another. Previously thought to be junk DNA, TEs are now widely recognized as powerful engines of genome evolution, as evidenced by their involvement in the rewiring of gene regulatory networks and the creation of new cellular functions. Short-term consequences of TE mobilization can also be particularly dramatic given that TE insertions are a unique source of large effect mutations and that transposition can be exquisitely sensitive to the environment. However, how and when TEs do mobilize in nature, and what are the consequences of their mobilization, are still open questions. In this talk I will present our efforts to characterize the impact of TE mobilization using the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana, and how we used this knowledge to forecast the consequences of environmentally-induced transposition in response to ongoing climate change.