Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz), though a major world crop with enormous potential, is very under studied. Little is known about its genome structure and organisation. Transposable elements have a key role in the evolution of genome structure, and can be used as important tools in applied genetics. This paper sets out to survey the diversity of members of three major classes of transposable element within the cassava genome and in relation to similar elements in other plants. Members of two classes of LTR-retrotransposons, Ty1/copia-like and Ty3/gypsy-like, and of Enhancer/Suppressor Mutator (En/Spm)-like transposons were isolated and characterised. Analyses revealed 59 families of Ty1/copia, 26 families of Ty3/gypsy retrotransposons, and 40 families of En/Spm in the cassava genome. In the comparative analyses, the predicted amino acid sequences for these transposon classes were compared with those of related elements from other plant species. These revealed that there were multiple lineages of Ty1/copia-like retrotransposons in the genome of cassava and suggested that vertical and horizontal transmission as the source of cassava Mecops may not be mutually exclusive. For the Ty3/gypsy elements network, two groups of cassava Megyps were evident including the Arabidopsis Athila lineage. However, cassava En/Spm-like elements (Meens) constituted a single group within a network of plant En/Spm-like elements. Hybridisation analysis supported the presence of transposons in the genome of cassava in medium (Ty3/gypsy and En/Spm) to high (Ty1/copia) copy numbers. Thus the cassava genome was shown to contain diverse members of three major classes of transposable element; however, the different classes exhibited contrasting evolutionary histories.
- transposable element
- Manihot esculenta