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Mol Biol Evol. 2003 Apr;20(4):554-62. Epub 2003 Mar 5.

Recent horizontal transfer of mellifera subfamily mariner transposons into insect lineages representing four different orders shows that selection acts only during horizontal transfer.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University.


We report the isolation and sequencing of genomic copies of mariner transposons involved in recent horizontal transfers into the genomes of the European earwig, Forficula auricularia; the European honey bee, Apis mellifera; the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata; and a blister beetle, Epicauta funebris, insects from four different orders. These elements are in the mellifera subfamily and are the second documented example of full-length mariner elements involved in this kind of phenomenon. We applied maximum likelihood methods to the coding sequences and determined that the copies in each genome were evolving neutrally, whereas reconstructed ancestral coding sequences appeared to be under selection, which strengthens our previous hypothesis that the primary selective constraint on mariner sequence evolution is the act of horizontal transfer between genomes.

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