Lack of population differentiation patterns of previously identified putatively adaptive transposable element insertions at microgeographic scales

Biol Direct. 2015 Oct 14:10:50. doi: 10.1186/s13062-015-0075-4.


Background: Transposable elements (TEs) play an important role in genome function and evolution. It has been shown that TEs are a considerable source of adaptive changes in the genome of Drosophila melanogaster. Specifically, footprints of selection at the DNA level, the presence of population differentiation patterns across environmental gradients, and detailed mechanistic and fitness analyses of a few candidate adaptive TEs pointed to the role of TEs in environmental adaptation. However, whether the population differentiation patterns observed at large geographic scales can be replicated at a microgeographic scale has never been assessed before.

Results: In this work, we explored the population patterns of putatively adaptive TEs at a micro-spatial scale level. We compared the frequencies of TEs, previously identified as putatively adaptive and putatively neutral, in populations collected in opposite slopes of the Evolution Canyon at Mt. Carmel in Israel separated by 200 m on average. However, the differentiation patterns previously observed across large geographic distances (2000-2200 km) were not replicated at the microscale level of the Evolution Canyon populations.

Conclusion: TE insertions previously associated with D. melanogaster environmental adaptation at a macro scale level do not play such a role at the microscale level of the Evolution Canyon populations. However, these results do not exclude a role of TEs in microgeographic adaptation because the dataset analyzed in this work is restricted to TEs identified in a single North American strain and as such is highly biased and incomplete.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Geography
  • Israel


  • DNA Transposable Elements