The hAT family hopper transposon exists as highly similar yet discontinuous elements in the Bactrocera tephritid fly genus

Insect Mol Biol. 2024 Jun;33(3):185-194. doi: 10.1111/imb.12891. Epub 2024 Jan 22.


The hAT family transposable element, hopper, was originally discovered as a defective 3120-bp full-length element in a wild-type strain of the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) (Diptera: Tephritidae), and subsequently a functional 3131-bp element, hopperBdwe, was isolated from a white eye mutant strain. The latter study showed that closely related elements exist in melonfly, Zeugodacus cucurbitae (Coquillett) (Diptera: Tephritidae), a closely related subgenus, suggesting that hopper could have a widespread presence in the Bactrocera genus. To further understand the distribution of hopper within and beyond the B. dorsalis species complex, primer pairs from hopperBdwe and its adjacent genomic insertion site were used to survey the presence and relatedness of hopper in five species within the complex and four species beyond the complex. Based on sequence identity of a 1.94 kb internal nucleotide sequence, the closest relationships were with mutated elements from B. dorsalis s.s. and species synonymized with B. dorsalis including B. papayae, B. philippinensis and B. invadens, ranging in identity between 88.4% and 99.5%. Notably, Bactrocera carambolae (Drew & Hancock) (Diptera: Tephritidae), which is most closely related to B. dorsalis beyond the synonymized species, shared hopper identities of 97.3%-99.5%. Beyond the B. dorsalis complex, Z. cucurbitae, Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) (Diptera: Tephritidae) and Bactrocera zonata (Saunders) (Diptera: Tephritidae) shared identities of 83.1%-97.1%, while hopper was absent from the Bactrocera oleae (Gmelin) (Diptera: Tephritidae) strain tested. While the functional autonomous hopperBdwe element was not detected in these species, another closely related hopper element isolated from a B. dorsalis genetic sexing strain has an uninterrupted transposase open reading frame. The discontinuous presence of hopper in the Bactrocera genus has implications for its use for genomic manipulation and understanding the phylogenetic relationship of these species.

Keywords: Bactrocera carambolae; Bactrocera dorsalis; Bactrocera species complex; hopper transposable element; phylogenetic markers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • Tephritidae* / genetics


  • DNA Transposable Elements