The genomes of most plant species are dominated by transposable elements (TEs). Once considered as ‘junk DNA’, TEs are now known to have a major role in driving genome evolution. Over the last decade, it has become apparent that some stress conditions and other environmental stimuli can drive bursts of activity of certain TE families and consequently new TE insertions. These can give rise to altered gene expression patterns and phenotypes, with new TE insertions sometimes causing flanking genes to become transcriptionally responsive to the same stress conditions that activated the TE in the first place. Such connections between TE-mediated increases in diversity and an accelerated rate of genome evolution provide powerful mechanisms for plants to adapt more rapidly to new environmental conditions. This review will focus on environmentally induced transposition, the mechanisms by which it alters gene expression, and the consequences for plant genome evolution and breeding.
Dubin, M. J., Mittelsten Scheid, O., & Becker, C. (2018, April 1). Transposons: a blessing curse. Current Opinion in Plant Biology. Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbi.2018.01.003