transposable elements and speciation

Michael Benedik benedik at uh.edu
Wed Apr 17 10:48:08 EST 1996

In article <4l2bsr$67f at mserv1.dl.ac.uk>
Johnjoe McFadden <j.mcfadden at surrey.ac.uk> writes:

> I am interested in the possibility of transposable elements being involved
> in speciation events.
> Does anybody know of examples of species or genera-specific insertion
> sequences or transposable elements from prokaryotes or eukaryotes?
> A few examples that I am aware of are IS200 in Salmonella species, IS6110 in
> Mycobacterium tuberclulosis complex and IS900 in Mycobacterium paratuberculosis.
> Any others?
> Johnjoe McFadden
> Johnjoe McFadden, PhD
> Molecular Microbiology Group
> School of Biological Sceinces
> University of Surrey,
> Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH, UK.
> tel: 44-(0)1483 300800 extn.2671
> fax: 44-(0)1483 300374
> e-mail: j.mcfadden at surrey.ac.uk

It is not clear whether you are looking for species specific
transposable elements or elements which might be factors forcing
speciation. There are many cases of the former, but I am unaware of any
proven cases of the latter.

I think you will find many cases among eucaryotes, for example L1 line
elements in mammals are quite distinct between different mammals so
most people would likely claim that human L1 is unique. In fact most
eucaryotic elements are quite distinct for each species (gypsy, Ty, P,
copia, Ac, Spm etc)

Now if you are interested in elements being the causative factor for
speciation, that is quite different and harder to prove. I think the
insect elements such as P element from drosophila are the most
interesting in this regard, they clearly did not cause speciation, but
one can easily envision how they might do so.

Michael Benedik
Department of Biochemical Sciences
University of Houston
benedik at uh.edu

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