Inter-species sequence comparison of Brachypodium reveals how transposon activity corrodes genome colinearity

Jan P. Buchmann, Takashi Matsumoto, Nils Stein, Beat Keller, Thomas Wicker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Intergenic sequences evolve rapidly in plant genomes through a process known as genomic turnover. To investigate the influence of DNA transposons on genomic turnover, we compared 1 Mbp of orthologous genomic sequences from Brachypodium distachyon and Brachypodium sylvaticum. We found that B. distachyon and B. sylvaticum diverged approximately 1.7-2.0 million years ago. Of a total of 219 genes identified on the analyzed sequences, 211 were colinear. However, only 24 transposable elements of a total of 451 were orthologous (i.e. inserted in the common ancestor). We characterized in detail 59 insertions and 60 excisions of DNA transposons in one or other species, which altered 17% of the intergenic space. The DNA transposon excision sites showed complex and highly diagnostic sequence motifs for double-strand break (DSB) repair. DNA transposon excisions can lead to extensive deletions of hundreds of base pairs of flanking sequence if the DSB is repaired by 'single-strand annealing', or insertions of up to several hundred base pairs of 'filler DNA' if the DSB is repaired by 'synthesis-dependent strand annealing'. In some cases, DSBs were repaired by a combination of both methods. We present a model for the evolution of intergenic sequences in which repair of DSBs upon DNA transposon excision is a major factor in the rapid turnover and erosion of intergenic sequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-563
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


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