Molecular evolution of magellan, a maize Ty3/gypsy-like retrotransposon

Michael D. Purugganan, Susan R. Wessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The magellan transposable element is responsible for a spontaneous 5.7-kb insertion in the maize wx-M allele. This element has the sequence and structural characteristics of a Ty3/gypsy-like retrotransposon. The magellan element is present in all Zea species and Tripsacum andersonii; it is absent, however, in the genomes of all other Tripsacum species analyzed. The genetic distances between magellan elements suggest that this retrotransposon is evolving faster than other Zea nuclear loci. The phylogeny of magellan within Zea and T. andersonii also reveals a pattern of interspecies transfers, resulting in the movement of magellan subfamilies between different species genomes. Interspecific hybridization may be a major mechanism by which this retrotransposon invades and establishes itself in new taxa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11674-11678
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
StatePublished - Nov 22 1994


  • Tripsacum
  • Zea
  • interspecific hybridization
  • transposable element
  • waxy allele

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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