The goal of my research program over the past three decades has been to understand the contribution of transposable elements (TEs) to gene and genome evolution. TEs are fragments of DNA that can insert into new chromosomal locations and often make duplicate copies of themselves in the process. The analysis of genome sequences from both plants and animals has led to the surprising finding that TEs comprise the single largest component. They account for at least 45% of the human genome and 50-80% of some important plant genomes including maize, wheat and barley.
TEs were discovered in maize (corn) by Barbara McClintock over 50 years ago as the genetic agents that are responsible for the spots of pigmentation on mutant kernels. They are also responsible for the sectors of pigment in the rose.

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