2016 Volume 91 Issue 6 Pages 293-299
Natural accessions are used for studying intraspecies genetic variation in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana in order to address fundamental questions of evolution. Transposable elements are responsible for a wide range of mutations and play significant roles in shaping a genome over evolutionary time. In the present study, we aimed to characterize ONSEN, a heat-activated long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposon, in natural A. thaliana accessions. Southern blot analysis demonstrated that ONSEN was present in all the studied accessions, but the copy number was diverse. Olympia-1 contained a single ONSEN copy, located in the centromere of Chromosome 3. A premature stop codon in Olympia-1 ONSEN presumably abolishes integrase activity, which in turn presumably renders the retrotransposon non-functional. Hybridization of Col-0 with Olympia-1 showed that several ONSEN copies in Col-0 were activated by heat stress and maintained their transpositional activity in the progeny.