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Sun, Ting; Renner, Susanne S.; Xu, Yuxing; Qin, Yan; Wu, Jianqiang and Sun, Guiling (2016): Two hAT transposon genes were transferred from Brassicaceae to broomrapes and are actively expressed in some recipients. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 6, 30192 [PDF, 1MB]

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A growing body of evidence is pointing to an important role of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in the evolution of higher plants. However, reports of HGTs of transposable elements (TEs) in plants are still scarce, and only one case is known of a class II transposon horizontally transferred between grasses. To investigate possible TE transfers in dicots, we performed transcriptome screening in the obligate root parasite Phelipanche aegyptiaca (Orobanchaceae), data-mining in the draft genome assemblies of four other Orobanchaceae, gene cloning, gene annotation in species with genomic information, and a molecular phylogenetic analysis. We discovered that the broomrape genera Phelipanche and Orobanche acquired two related nuclear genes (christened BO transposase genes), a new group of the hAT superfamily of class II transposons, from Asian Sisymbrieae or a closely related tribe of Brassicaceae, by HGT. The collinearity of the flanking genes, lack of a classic border structure, and low expression levels suggest that BO transposase genes cannot transpose in Brassicaceae, whereas they are highly expressed in P. aegyptiaca.

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