Evolution of the transposable element mariner in the Drosophila melanogaster species group

Genetica. 1992;86(1-3):37-46. doi: 10.1007/BF00133709.


The population biology and molecular evolution of the transposable element mariner has been studied in the eight species of the melanogaster subgroup of the Drosophila subgenus Sophophora. The element occurs in D. simulans, D. mauritiana, D. sechellia, D. teissieri, and D. yakuba, but is not found in D. melanogaster, D. erecta, or D. orena. Sequence comparisons suggest that the mariner element was present in the ancestor of the species subgroup and was lost in some of the lineages. Most species contain both active and inactive mariner elements. A deletion of most of the 3' end characterizes many elements in D. teissieri, but in other species the inactive elements differ from active ones only by simple nucleotide substitutions or small additions/deletions. Active mariner elements from all species are quite similar in nucleotide sequence, although there are some species-specific differences. Many, but not all, of the inactive elements are also quite closely related. The genome of D. mauritiana contains 20-30 copies of mariner, that of D. simulans 0-10, and that of D. sechellia only two copies (at fixed positions in the genome). The mariner situation in D. sechellia may reflect a reduced effective population size owing to the restricted geographical range of this species and its ecological specialization to the fruit of Morinda citrifolia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Drosophila / classification
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA Transposable Elements