The Elements of Evolution (44-12) Endogenous Retroviruses


The expression of evolution begins at the molecular level. Convergent evolution occurs there as well.

 Endogenous Retroviruses

Endogenous retroviruses are transposable elements (TEs) that resemble retroviruses. TEs can change their positions within a genome, and so have been called “jumping genes.”

Transposable elements can drive evolution by creating genetic and epigenetic variation. ~ Japanese cytologist Tokuji Tsuchiya & American cytologist Thomas Eulgem

The basic process of using the information encoded in DNA – transcription – employs RNA as an intermediary. Retrotransposons are TEs that employ RNA to copy themselves. Endogenous retroviruses independently evolved into retrotransposons multiple times; an example of convergent evolution at the molecular level.