Wake up of transposable elements following Drosophila simulans worldwide colonization

Mol Biol Evol. 1999 Sep;16(9):1251-5. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a026215.


Transposable elements (TEs) make up around 10%-15% of the Drosophila melanogaster genome, but its sibling species Drosophila simulans carries only one third as many such repeat sequences. We do not, however, have an overall view of copy numbers of the various classes of TEs (long terminal repeat [LTR] retrotransposons, non-LTR retrotransposons, and transposons) in genomes of natural populations of both species. We analyzed 34 elements in individuals from various natural populations of these species. We show that D. melanogaster has higher average chromosomal insertion site numbers per genome than D. simulans for all TEs except five. The LTR retrotransposons gypsy, ZAM, and 1731 and the transposon bari-1 present similar low copy numbers in both species. The transposon hobo has a large number of insertion sites, with significantly more sites in D. simulans. High variation between populations in number of insertion sites of some elements of D. simulans suggests that these elements can invade the genome of the entire species starting from a local population. We propose that TEs in the D. simulans genome are being awakened and amplified as they had been a long time ago in D. melanogaster.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetics, Population
  • Models, Genetic
  • Retroelements / genetics
  • Species Specificity
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences / genetics


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Retroelements