Date of Award

Winter 2006

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

John Collins


The genomes of all organisms contain discrete DNA sequences present as disperse repetitive elements called transposons. Transposons have the unique ability to move to new chromosomal locations. Problems of uncontrolled movement of transposons can result in mutations, rearrangement, and even broken chromosomes. Often termed "selfish parasites" that invade a host genome, there is a longstanding question of whether they have a functional role. As a first step in an effort to investigate this question, I identified and annotated 276 full length and partial elements in the C.elegans genome. I determined the genomic location of each and looked for patterns resulting from their presence. I found that they are widespread throughout the C.elegans genome, and do not cluster on the arms of the chromosomes as was previously thought. In addition, I have found examples of elements that have created introns in C.elegans genes and for which there are conserved introns in a closely related species, C.briggsae. Lastly, I have discovered evidence of potential novel intron creation by transposable elements in both C.elegans and C.briggsae. These results establish evidence for the genome's adaptation to the presence of these elements, and point to the possibility of the host genome utilizing their unique characteristics to regulate gene expression.