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Structural variation and genome complexity: is dispensable really dispensable?

Marroni, Fabio, Pinosio, Sara, Morgante, Michele
Current opinion in plant biology 2014 v.18 pp. 31-36
evolution, genetic variation, mating systems, multigene family, phenotypic variation
Structural variants (SVs) such as copy number variants (CNVs) and presence/absence variants (PAVs) substantially contribute to genetic variation and have an important effect on phenotypic diversity. Since unbalanced SVs are by definition sequences present only in some individuals, they have therefore been referred to as dispensable genome and are not necessary for survival, even though they may provide an important contribution to phenotypic diversity within the species. However, some multi-copy sequences of the dispensable genomes (e.g., multigene families) may be needed in a given proportion by each individual, thus belonging to a conditionally dispensable portion of the pan-genome. Another interesting aspect reported by recent studies is that the rate at which SVs are formed might be influenced by the mating system and by common environmental stresses. In conclusion the dispensable genome plays an important role in genome evolution and in the complex interplay between the genome and the environment.