Poster Presentation Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference 2016

Do transposable elements facilitate adaptation? (#696)

Jessica Stapley 1
  1. ETH, Zurich, Zurich, ZURICH, Switzerland

Adaptation is fuelled by genetic variation and the ultimate source of genetic variation is mutation. One powerful mutagenic force in the genome is Transposable elements (TEs), which have the capacity to move and replicate within the genome. Recent work has demonstrated that TEs have contributed to the structure, function and evolution of genomes, and to heritable phenotypic change. Several studies have also demonstrated the adaptive role of specific TEs in natural populations. Despite these advances we still know very little about how often TEs have been involved in adaptation and if TE remodelling of the genomic landscape helps or hinders adaptation. To begin to address these questions I am investigating the distribution of TEs in relation to genes, adaptive loci and other genomic features across a diverse range of organisms. Using whole genome sequence data available online and published data of adaptive loci and/or genomic regions under selection, I will test if genomic regions involved in adaptation to different selective pressures are enriched for TEs, or specific families of TEs. I will also test if TE-rich regions are consistently enriched for genes belonging to particular GO terms across multiple species. The results will help us understand if TE activity influences adaptation and gene distribution across a broad range of taxa.