While transposable elements (TE) have long been suspected of involvement in species diversification, identifying specific roles has been difficult. We recently found evidence of TEderived regulatory RNAs in a species-rich family of bats. The TE-derived small RNAs are temporally associated with the burst of species diversification, suggesting that they may have been involved in the processes that led to the diversification. In this commentary, we expand on the ideas that were briefly touched upon in that manuscript. Specifically, we suggest avenues of research that may help to identify the roles that TEs may play in perturbing regulatory pathways. Such research endeavors may serve to inform evolutionary biologists of the ways that TEs have influenced the genomic and taxonomic diversity around us.
Hoffman, F. G., McGuire, L., Counterman, B. A., & Ray, D. (2015). Transposable elements and small RNAs: genomic fuel for species diversity. Mobile Genetic Elements, 1-4. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159256X.2015.1066919