Genome-Wide Analysis of Stowaway-Like MITEs in Wheat Reveals High Sequence Conservation, Gene Association, and Genomic Diversification
The diversity and evolution of wheat (Triticum-Aegilops group) genomes is determined, in part, by the activity of transposable elements that constitute a large fraction of the genome (up to 90%). In this study, we retrieved sequences from publicly available wheat databases, including a 454-pyrosequencing database, and analyzed 18,217 insertions of 18 Stowaway-like miniature inverted-repeat transposable element (MITE) families previously characterized in wheat that together account for approximately 1.3 Mb of sequence. All 18 families showed high conservation in length, sequence, and target site preference. Furthermore, approximately 55% of the elements were inserted in transcribed regions, into or near known wheat genes. Notably, we observed significant correlation between the mean length of the MITEs and their copy number. In addition, the genomic composition of nine MITE families was studied by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis in 40 accessions of Triticum spp. and Aegilops spp., including diploids, tetraploids, and hexaploids. The quantitative polymerase chain reaction data showed massive and significant intraspecific and interspecific variation as well as genome-specific proliferation and nonadditive quantities in the polyploids. We also observed significant differences in the methylation status of the insertion sites among MITE families. Our data thus suggest a possible role for MITEs in generating genome diversification and in the establishment of nascent polyploid species in wheat.