Chiropterans Are a Hotspot for Horizontal Transfer of DNA Transposons in Mammalia

Mol Biol Evol. 2023 May 2;40(5):msad092. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msad092.


Horizontal transfer of transposable elements (TEs) is an important mechanism contributing to genetic diversity and innovation. Bats (order Chiroptera) have repeatedly been shown to experience horizontal transfer of TEs at what appears to be a high rate compared with other mammals. We investigated the occurrence of horizontally transferred (HT) DNA transposons involving bats. We found over 200 putative HT elements within bats; 16 transposons were shared across distantly related mammalian clades, and 2 other elements were shared with a fish and two lizard species. Our results indicate that bats are a hotspot for horizontal transfer of DNA transposons. These events broadly coincide with the diversification of several bat clades, supporting the hypothesis that DNA transposon invasions have contributed to genetic diversification of bats.

Keywords: echidna; endogenous retrovirus; fusogenic envelope protein; monotremes; platypus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chiroptera* / genetics
  • DNA Transposable Elements* / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Mammals / genetics
  • Phylogeny


  • DNA Transposable Elements