All TEs share their ability to transpose. However, how they achieve mobility varies. As a result, TEs may differ in many features, with sequence, structure, and encoded domains being just a few.
Classification aims to capture the TE diversity in all living organisms by focusing on shared properties between individual TE types. As TEs come in many flavors, several approaches towards their systematic hierarchical placement co-exist. Naturally, as opinions differ, TE systematics are a matter of debate in the community.
Here, we try to offer a way through at least some of these systems. For this, we provide the initial references and the underlying systematic frameworks. For the future, we hope to extend these lists and to offer advice for embedding current research into any of these hierarchies.
The TE orders can be classified further into lineages and clades. Therefore, numerous sub-classification schemes exist, depending in the overarching TE group.
*This name is currently under reconsideration by the community, learn more here
There are many commonly studied TEs and other MGEs, but there are also a plethora of less well studied or less well-known elements outside of their own sub-fields of research. This list also includes various types of structural groupings of elements, such as MITEs, LARDs, etc.
Individual TEs can be summarized into families and superfamilies. If many superfamilies, often across diverse organisms, share specific features, they can be summarized into lineages. In the literature, these are often individually described and characterized.
TE naming has often been left to the authors' discretion and has lead to a plethora of evocative and sometimes amusing names. However, it is important to consider cases where TE (and gene names in general) can carry derogatory terms and perpetuate systemic discrimination (while mainly unintentional from the original authors perspective).