Telomeres are the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes involved in the stabilisation of the chromosome and revering the loss of DNA associated with incomplete end replication. Our group is particularly interested in the evolution of plant telomere motifs. In particular we have shown that in the divergence of the plant order Asparagales there was a switch in telomere motifs from (TTTAGGG)n, thought typical of plants, to (TTAGGG)n, more usually associated with vertebrates. Later with the divergence of the plant genus Allium (onions), this new TTAGGG motif was itself replaced with another, as yet undiscovered telomere sequence. Similarly, we showed that with the divergence of Cestrum, Sessea and Vestia that the TTTAGGG-type motif has been lost, and we are searching for the motif that replaces it. All this work has been done in collaboration with Dr Jiri Fajkus and his group. If you are interested in this work please contact me.
For furhter reading see – Fajkus J, Sykorova E, Leitch AR. 2005. Telomeres in evolution and evolution of telomeres. Chromosome Research 13(5): 469-479.