Adaptation to Global Change: A Transposable Element-Epigenetics Perspective

Trends Ecol Evol. 2016 Jul;31(7):514-526. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.03.013. Epub 2016 Apr 12.


Understanding how organisms cope with global change is a major scientific challenge. The molecular pathways underlying rapid adaptive phenotypic responses to global change remain poorly understood. Here, we highlight the relevance of two environment-sensitive molecular elements: transposable elements (TEs) and epigenetic components (ECs). We first outline the sensitivity of these elements to global change stressors and review how they interact with each other. We then propose an integrative molecular engine coupling TEs and ECs and allowing organisms to fine-tune phenotypes in a real-time fashion, adjust the production of phenotypic and genetic variation, and produce heritable phenotypes with different levels of transmission fidelity. We finally discuss the implications of this molecular engine in the context of global change.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Variation


  • DNA Transposable Elements