November 2021

Jumping genes help AM fungi evolve

Alexandra Dallaire of the Gurdon Institute and Crop Science Centre researcher Uta Paszkowski are authors on recent research proposing that well controlled ‘jumping’ of DNA sequences within the genome might contribute to AM fungi genomic evolution. The research supports a model in which these ‘jumping’ genes, also referred to as transposable elements, shape the genome of AM fungi, while DNA methylation and small RNA–mediated silencing keep their overproliferation in check.

AM fungi have long been considered as ancient asexuals. Long-term clonal evolution would be remarkable for a eukaryotic lineage and suggests the importance of alternative mechanisms to promote genetic variability facilitating adaptation in these at least 450 million years old organisms.

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