Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 514-524

First online:

Evidence for interspecific transfer of the transposable element mariner betweenDrosophila andZaprionus

  • Kyoko MaruyamaAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine
  • , Daniel L. HartlAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine

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The transposable element mariner occurs widely in themelanogaster species group ofDrosophila. However, in drosophilids outside of themelanogaster species group, sequences showing strong DNA hybridization with mariner are found only in the genusZaprionus. the mariner sequence obtained fromZaprionus tuberculatus is 97% identical with that fromDrosophila mauritiana, a member of themelanogaster species subgroup, whereas a mariner sequence isolated fromDrosophila tsacasi is only 92% identical with that fromD. mauritiana. BecauseD. tsacasi is much more closely related toD. mauritiana than isZaprionus, the presence of mariner inZaprionus may result from horizontal transfer. In order to confirm lack of a close phylogenetic relationship between the genusZaprionus and themelanogaster species group, we compared the alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) sequences among these species. The results show that the coding region of Adh is only 82% identical betweenZ. tuberculatus andD. mauritiana, as compared with 90% identical betweenD. tsacasi andD. mauritiana. Furthermore, the mariner gene phylogeny obtained by maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony analyses is discordant with the species phylogeny estimated by using the Adh genes. The only inconsistency in the mariner gene phylogeny is in the placement of theZaprionus mariner sequence, which clusters with mariner fromDrosophila teissieri andDrosophila yakuba in themelanogaster species subgroup. These results strongly suggest horizontal transfer.

Key words

Drosophila Zaprionus Mariner Transposable elements Horizontal gene transfer Alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) Sequence divergence