Testing transposable elements as genetic drive mechanisms using Drosophila P element constructs as a model system

Genetica. 1997;101(1):13-33. doi: 10.1023/a:1018339603370.


The use of transposable elements (TEs) as genetic drive mechanisms was explored using Drosophila melanogaster as a model system. Alternative strategies, employing autonomous and nonautonomous P element constructs were compared for their efficiency in driving the ry+ allele into populations homozygous for a ry- allele at the genomic rosy locus. Transformed flies were introduced at 1%, 5%, and 10% starting frequencies to establish a series of populations that were monitored over the course of 40 generations, using both phenotypic and molecular assays. The transposon-borne ry+ marker allele spread rapidly in almost all populations when introduced at 5% and 10% seed frequencies, but 1% introductions frequently failed to become established. A similar initial rapid increase in frequency of the ry+ transposon occurred in several control populations lacking a source of transposase. Constructs carrying ry+ markers also increased to moderate frequencies in the absence of selection on the marker. The results of Southern and in situ hybridization studies indicated a strong inverse relationship between the degree of conservation of construct integrity and transposition frequency. These finding have relevance to possible future applications of transposons as genetic drive mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Breeding
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Dosage
  • Genetics, Population*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Phenotype
  • Plasmids
  • Transformation, Genetic


  • DNA Transposable Elements