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The Ecology of the Genome and the Dynamics of the Biological Dark Matter

Abstract : Transposable elements (TEs) are essential components of the eukaryotic genomes. While mostly deleterious, evidence is mounting that TEs provide the host with beneficial adaptations. How ’selfish’ or ’parasitic’ DNA persists until it helps species evolution is emerging as a major evolutionary puzzle, especially in asexual taxa where the lack of sex strongly impede the spread of TEs. Since occasional but unchecked TE proliferations would ultimately drive host lineages toward extinction, asexual genomes are typically predicted to be free of TEs, which contrasts with their persistence in asexual taxa. We designed innovative ’Eco-genomic’ models that account for both host demography and within-host molecular mechanisms of transposition and silencing to analyze their impact on TE dynamics in asexual genome populations. We unraveled that the spread of TEs can be limited to a stable level by density-dependent purifying selection when TE copies are over-dispersed among lineages and the host demographic turn-over is fast. We also showed that TE silencing can protect host populations in two ways; by preventing TEs with weak effects to accumulate or by favoring the elimination of TEs with large effects. Our predictions may explain TE persistence in known asexual taxa that typically show fast demography and where TE copy number variation between lineages is expected. Such TE persistence in asexual taxa potentially has important implications for their evolvability and the preservation of sexual reproduction.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03157289
Contributor : Laurent Jonchère <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 10:43:29 AM
Last modification on : Monday, March 29, 2021 - 2:48:24 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, June 10, 2021 - 6:30:40 PM

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Alheli Flores-Ferrer, Anne Nguyen, Sylvain Glémin, Jean-Marc Deragon, Olivier Panaud, et al.. The Ecology of the Genome and the Dynamics of the Biological Dark Matter. Journal of Theoretical Biology, Elsevier, 2021, 518, pp.110641. ⟨10.1016/j.jtbi.2021.110641⟩. ⟨hal-03157289⟩

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