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Genetics. 2001 Jul;158(3):1279-88.

Population dynamics of an Ac-like transposable element in self- and cross-pollinating arabidopsis.

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Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1B1, Canada.


Theoretical models predict that the mating system should be an important factor driving the dynamics of transposable elements in natural populations due to differences in selective pressure on both element and host. We used a PCR-based approach to examine the abundance and levels of insertion polymorphism of Ac-III, a recently identified Ac-like transposon family, in natural populations of the selfing plant Arabidopsis thaliana and its close outcrossing relative, Arabidopsis lyrata. Although several insertions appeared to be ancient and shared between species, there is strong evidence for recent activity of this element family in both species. Sequences of the regions flanking insertions indicate that all Ac-III transposons segregating in natural populations are in noncoding regions and provide no evidence for local transposition events. Transposon display analysis suggests the presence of slightly higher numbers of insertion sites per individual but fewer total polymorphic insertions in the self-pollinating A. thaliana than A. lyrata. Element insertions appear to be segregating at significantly lower frequencies in A. lyrata than A. thaliana, which is consistent with a reduction in transposition rate, reduction in effective population size, or reduced efficacy of natural selection against element insertions in selfing populations.

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