Different histories of two highly variable LTR retrotransposons in sunflower species.Gene 2017; 634:5-14GENE
In the Helianthus genus, very large intra- and interspecific variability related to two specific retrotransposons of Helianthus annuus (Helicopia and SURE) exists. When comparing these two sequences to sunflower sequence databases recently produced by our lab, the Helicopia family was shown to belong to the Maximus/SIRE lineage of the Sirevirus genus of the Copia superfamily, whereas the SURE element (whose superfamily was not even previously identified) was classified as a Gypsy element of the Ogre/Tat lineage of the Metavirus genus. Bioinformatic analysis of the two retrotransposon families revealed their genomic abundance and relative proliferation timing. The genomic abundance of these families differed significantly among 12 Helianthus species. The ratio between the abundance of long terminal repeats and their reverse transcriptases suggested that the SURE family has relatively more solo long terminal repeats than does Helicopia. Pairwise comparisons of Illumina reads encoding the reverse transcriptase domain indicated that SURE amplification may have occurred more recently than that of Helicopia. Finally, the analysis of population structure based on the SURE and Helicopia polymorphisms of 32 Helianthus species evidenced two subpopulations, which roughly corresponded to species of the Helianthus and Divaricati/Ciliares sections. However, a number of species showed an admixed structure, confirming the importance of interspecific hybridisation in the evolution of this genus. In general, these two retrotransposon families differentially contributed to interspecific variability, emphasising the need to refer to specific families when studying genome evolution.