Transposable elements (TEs) are self-mobilized DNA sequences that constitute a large portion of plant genomes. Being selfish DNA, they utilize different mobilization mechanisms to persist and proliferate in host genomes. It is important that new TE insertions generate de novo
variability, most of which is likely to be deleterious, but some can be advantageous. Also, a growing body of evidence shows that TEs were continually recruited by their hosts to provide additional functionality. Here, we review potential ways in which transposable elements can provide novel functions to host genomes, from simple gene knock-outs to complex rewiring of gene expression networks. We discuss possible implications of TE presence and activity in crop genomes for agricultural production.
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