How mobile genetic elements molded eukaryotic genomes is a key evolutionary question that gained wider popularity when mobile DNA sequences were shown to comprise about half of the human genome. Although Saccharomyces cerevisiae does not suffer such “genome obesity”, five families of LTR-retrotransposons, Ty1, Ty2, Ty3, Ty4, and Ty5 elements, comprise about 3% of its genome. The availability of complete genome sequences from several Saccharomyces species, including members of the closely related sensu stricto group, present new opportunities for analyzing molecular mechanisms for chromosome evolution, speciation, and reproductive isolation. In this review I present key experiments from both the pre- and current genomic sequencing eras suggesting how Ty elements mediate genome evolution.
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