Molecular and Cytological Characterization of Centromeric Retrotransposons in a Wild Relative of Rice, Oryza granulata
Centromeric retrotransposons (CRs) are important component of the functional centromeres of rice chromosomes. To track the evolution of the CR elements in genus Oryza, we sequenced the orthologous region of the rice centromere 8 (Cen8) in O. granulata and analyzed transposons in this region. A total of 12 bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) that span the centromeric region in O. granulata were sequenced. The O. granulate centromeric sequences are composed of as much as 85% of transposons, higher than any other reported eukaryotic centromeres. Ten novel LTR retrotransposon families were identified but a single retrotransposon, Gran3, constitutes nearly 43% of the centromeric sequences. Integration times of complete LTR retrotransposons indicate that the centromeric region had a massive insertion of LTR retrotransposons within 4.5 million year (Myr), which indicates a recent expansion of the centromere in O. granulata after the radiation of the Oryza genus. Two retrotransposon families, OGRetro7 and OGRetro9, show sequence similarity with the canonical CRs from rice and maize. Both OGRetro7 and OGRetro9 are highly concentrated in the centromeres of O. granulata chromosomes. Furthermore, strong hybridization signals were detected in all Oryza species but in O. brachyantha with the OGRetro7 and OGRetro9 probes. Characterization of the centromeric retrotransposons in O. granulata confirms the conservation of the CRs in the Oryza genus and provides a resource for comparative analysis of centromeres and centromere evolution among the Oryza genus and other genomes.