Copia-like retrotransposons are ubiquitous among plants

Daniel F. Voytas, Michael P. Cummings, Andrzej Konieczny, Frederick M. Ausubel, Steven R. Rodermel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

313 Scopus citations


Transposable genetic elements are assumed to be a feature of all eukaryotic genomes. Their identification, however, has largely been haphazard, limited principally to organisms subjected to molecular or genetic scrutiny. We assessed the phylogenetic distribution of copta-like retrotransposons, a class of transposable element that proliferates by reverse transcription, using a polymerase chain reaction assay designed to detect copia-like element reverse transcriptase sequences. copia-like retrotransposons were identified in 64 plant species as well as the photosynthetic protist Volvox carteri. The plant species included representatives from 9 of 10 plant divisions, including bryophytes, lycopods, ferns, gymnosperms, and angiosperms. DNA sequence analysis of 29 cloned PCR products and of a maize retrotransposon cDNA confirmed the identity of these sequences as copia-like reverse transcriptase sequences, thereby demonstrating that this class of retrotransposons is a ubiquitous component of plant genomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7124-7128
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1992


  • Molecular evolution
  • Reverse transcriptase
  • Transposable element

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