Endogenous transposable elements associated with virus infection in maize.

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Evidence that transposable DNA elements are ubiquitous in plants and that gross genetic instability may well provide the means for rapid evolutionary and even regulatory adaptation is rapidly accumulating. McClintock (1984) has suggested, for example, that stress in various forms might stimulate genome reorganization and the activation of transposable elements. Such a response would be analogous to, but much less specific than, the cascade of repair and recombination functions that is induced by DNA damage in Escherichia coli and is known as the SOS response. One possible source of such stress is systemic virus infection in plants. Although the symptoms of virus infection are generally not heritable, several studies have suggested that virally stressed plants may suffer unusual levels of genetic aherations. This notion is based mainly on genetic studies of virus-infected maize (Sprague et al. 1963; Sprague and McKinney 1966, 1971; Mottinger et al. 1984a) and earlier studies on...

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Cold Spring Harbor symposia on quantitative biology