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Mol Genet Genomics. 2015 Feb;290(1):67-78. doi: 10.1007/s00438-014-0900-y. Epub 2014 Aug 22.

An evaluation of the ecological relationship between Drosophila species and their parasitoid wasps as an opportunity for horizontal transposon transfer.

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Pós-Graduação em Genética e Biologia Molecular, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.


Evidences of horizontal transfer, the exchange of genetic material between reproductively isolated species, have accumulated over the last decades, including for multicellular eukaryotic organisms. However, the mechanisms and ecological relationships that promote such phenomenon is still poorly known. Host-parasite interaction is one type of relationship usually pointed in the literature that could potentially increase the probability of the horizontal transfer between species, because the species involved in such relationships are generally in close contact. Transposable elements, which are well-known genomic parasites, are DNA entities that tend to be involved in horizontal transfer due to their ability to mobilize between different genomic locations. Using Drosophila species and their parasitoid wasps as a host-parasite model, we evaluated the hypothesis that horizontal transposon transfers (HTTs) are more frequent in this set of species than in species that do not exhibit a close ecological and phylogenetic relationship. For this purpose, we sequenced two sets of species using a metagenomic and single-species genomic sampling approach through next-generation DNA sequencing. The first set was composed of five generalist Drosophila (D. maculifrons, D. bandeirantorum, D. polymorpha, D. mercatorum and D. willistoni) species and their associated parasitoid wasps, whereas the second set was composed of D. incompta, which is a flower specialist species, and its parasitoid wasp. We did not find strong evidence of HTT in the two sets of Drosophila and wasp parasites. However, at least five cases of HTT were observed between the generalist and specialist Drosophila species. Moreover, we detected an HT event involving a Wolbachia lineage between generalist and specialist species, indicating that these endosymbiotic bacteria could play a role as HTT vectors. In summary, our results do not support the hypothesis of prevalent HTT between species with a host-parasite relationship, at least for the studied wasp-Drosophila pairs. Moreover, it suggests that other mechanisms or parasites are involved in promoting HTT between Drosophila species as the Wolbachia endosymbiotic bacteria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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