Transposable elements and host genome evolution

Trends Ecol Evol. 2000 Mar;15(3):95-99. doi: 10.1016/s0169-5347(99)01817-0.


Several recent reports have challenged the idea that transposable elements (TEs) are mainly 'selfish' or 'junk' DNA with little importance for host evolution. It has been proposed that TEs have the potential to provide host genomes with the ability to enhance their own evolution. They might also be a major source of genetic diversity, allowing response to environmental changes. Because the relationships between TEs and host genomes are highly variable, and because the selfish, junk and beneficial DNA hypotheses are by no means mutually exclusive, a single label for these relationships appears to be inappropriate and potentially misleading.