Open Access Open Badges Research article

Genomic, RNA, and ecological divergences of the Revolver transposon-like multi-gene family in Triticeae

Motonori Tomita1*, Asuka Okutani1, Avigdor Beiles2 and Eviatar Nevo2

Author affiliations

1 Molecular Genetics Laboratory, Faculty of Agriculture, Tottori University, Tottori 680-8553, Japan

2 Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:269  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-269

Published: 25 September 2011



Revolver is a newly discovered multi-gene family of transposable elements in the Triticeae genome. Revolver encompasses 2929 to 3041 bp, has 20 bp of terminal inverted repeated sequences at both ends, and contains a transcriptionally active gene encoding a DNA-binding-like protein. A putative TATA box is located at base 221, with a cap site at base 261 and a possible polyadenylation signal AATAAA at base 2918. Revolver shows considerable quantitative variation in wheat and its relatives.


Revolver cDNAs varied between 395 and 2,182 bp in length. The first exon exhibited length variation, but the second and third exons were almost identical. These variants in the Revolver family shared the downstream region of the second intron, but varied structurally at the 5' first exon. There were 58 clones, which showed partial homology to Revolver, among 440,000 expressed sequence tagged (EST) clones sourced from Triticeae. In these Revolver homologues with lengths of 360-744 bp, the portion after the 2nd exon was conserved (65-79% homology), but the 1st exon sequences had mutually low homology, with mutations classified into 12 types, and did not have EST sequences with open reading frames (ORFs). By PCR with the 3'-flanking region of a typical genomic clone of Revolver-2 used as a single primer, rye chromosomes 1R and 5R could be simultaneously identified. Extensive eco-geographic diversity and divergence was observed among 161 genotypes of the single species Triticum dicoccoides collected from 18 populations in Israel with varying exposures to abiotic and biotic stresses (soil, temperature, altitude, water availability, and pathogens).


On the base of existing differences between Revolver variants, the molecular markers that can distinguish different rye chromosomes were developed. Eco-geographic diversification of wild emmer T. dicoccoides in Israel and high Revolver copy numbers are associated with higher rainfall and biotic stresses. The remarkable quantitative differences among copy numbers of Revolver in the same species from different ecosystems suggest strong amplification activity within the last 10,000 years. It is the interesting finding because the majority of Triticeae high-copy transposable elements seem to be inactive at the recent time except for BARE-1 element in Hordeum and the fact might be interesting to perceive the processes of plant adaptive evolution.