The role of selfish genetic elements in eukaryotic evolution

Nat Rev Genet. 2001 Aug;2(8):597-606. doi: 10.1038/35084545.


'Selfish genetic elements', such as transposons, homing endonucleases, meiotic drive chromosomes and heritable microorganisms, are common features of eukaryotes. However, their importance in the evolution of eukaryotic genomes is still controversial. In this review, we discuss these diverse elements and their potential importance in the evolution of genetic systems, adaptation, and the extinction and birth of species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Segregation / genetics
  • DNA Replication / genetics
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes / genetics
  • Eukaryotic Cells*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Humans
  • Interspersed Repetitive Sequences / genetics


  • DNA Restriction Enzymes