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Genetics. 1992 May;131(1):73-8.

P element transposition contributes substantial new variation for a quantitative trait in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Animal Science, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.


The P-M system of transposition in Drosophila melanogaster is a powerful mutator for many visible and lethal loci. Experiments using crosses between unrelated P and M stocks to assess the importance of transposition-mediated mutations affecting quantitative loci and response to selection have yielded unrepeatable or ambiguous results. In a different approach, we have used a P stock produced by microinjection of the ry506 M stock. Selection responses were compared between transposition lines that were initiated by crossing M strain females with males from the "co-isogenic" P strain, and ry506 M control lines. Unlike previous attempts to quantify the effects of P element transposition, there is no possibility of P transposition in the controls. During 10 generations of selection for the quantitative trait abdominal bristle number, none of the four control lines showed any response to selection, indicative of isogenicity for those loci affecting abdominal bristle number. In contrast, three of the four transposition lines showed substantial response, with regression of cumulative response on cumulative selection differential ranging from 15% to 25%. Transposition of P elements has produced new additive genetic variance at a rate which is more than 30 times greater than the rate expected from spontaneous mutation.

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