Revisiting horizontal transfer of transposable elements in Drosophila

Heredity (Edinb). 2008 Jun;100(6):545-54. doi: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6801094. Epub 2008 Apr 23.


Horizontal transfer (HT), defined as the transfer of genetic material between species, is considered to be an essential step in the 'life cycle' of transposable elements. We present a broad overview of suspected cases of HT of transposable elements in Drosophila. Hundred-one putative events of HT have been proposed in Drosophila for 21 different elements (5.0% refer to non-long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons, 42.6% to LTR retrotransposons and 52.4% to DNA transposons). We discuss the methods used to infer HT, their limits and the putative vectors of transposable elements. We outline all the alternative hypotheses and ask how we can be almost certain that phylogenetic inconsistencies are due to HT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal*
  • Phylogeny
  • Retroelements / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Retroelements