Transposable elements play an important role in the genetics of plants. For example, the relative abundances of retrotransposons can contribute to variation in the size of genomes among different plant species. We are characterizing the pattern and quantity for the different classes of transposable elements among an exemplar sample of morning glories across the tribe Ipomoeeae. We are mining the results from NextGeneration sequencing efforts used to construct a whole chloroplast genome phylogeny (Eserman et al. 2014) to examine transposable element dynamics in morning glories.
We also know transposable elements play an important role in the molecular genetics of flower color. A fun example of the consequences of these “jumping genes” is the cultivar of Ipomoea tricolor called “Flying Saucers” that exhibits unstable transposable element activity creating a flecked pattern of corolla color.