Genomes can vary significantly even within the same individual. The underlying mechanisms are manifold, ranging from somatic mutation and recombination, development-associated ploidy changes and genetic bottlenecks, over to programmed DNA elimination during germline/soma differentiation. In this perspective piece, we briefly review recent developments in the study of within-individual genome variation in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. We highlight a Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution 2020 virtual symposium entitled "Within-individual genome variation and germline/soma distinction" and the present Special Section of the same name in Genome Biology and Evolution, together fostering cross-taxon synergies in the field to identify and tackle key open questions in the understanding of within-individual genome variation.
- DNA elimination
- chromatin diminution
- germline-restricted chromosome
- germline/soma variation