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Genetics. 1994 Jul;137(3):815-27.

Transposable element numbers in cosmopolitan inversions from a natural population of Drosophila melanogaster.

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Committee on Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637.


Population studies of the distribution of transposable elements (TEs) on the chromosomes of Drosophila melanogaster have suggested that their copy number increase due to transposition is balanced by some form of natural selection. Theory suggests that, as a consequence of deleterious ectopic meiotic exchange between TEs, selection can favor genomes with lower TE copy numbers. This predicts that TEs should be less deleterious, and hence more abundant, in chromosomal regions in which recombination is reduced. To test this, we surveyed the abundance and locations of 10 families of TEs in recombination-suppressing chromosomal inversions from a natural population. The sample of 49 chromosomes included multiple independent isolates of seven different inversions and a corresponding set of standard chromosomes. For all 10 TE families pooled, copy numbers were significantly higher overall within low frequency inversions than within corresponding regions of standard chromosomes. TEs occupied chromosomal sites at significantly higher frequencies within the In(3R)Mo and In(3R)K inversions than within the corresponding regions of standard 3R chromosomes. These results are consistent with the predictions of the ectopic exchange model.

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