New perspectives on the evolution of within-individual genome variation and germline/soma distinction

Alexander Suh, Anne-Marie Dion-Côté

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberevab095
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number6
Early online date8 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • DNA elimination
  • chromatin diminution
  • germline-restricted chromosome
  • germline/soma variation

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