Possible horizontal transfer of Drosophila genes by the mite Proctolaelaps regalis

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Science  06 Sep 1991:
Vol. 253, Issue 5024, pp. 1125-1128
DOI: 10.1126/science.1653453


There is strong inferential evidence for recent horizontal gene transfer of the P (mobile) element to Drosophila melanogaster from a species of the Drosophila willistoni group. One potential vector of this transfer is a semiparasitic mite, Proctolaelaps regalis DeLeon, whose morphology, behavior, and co-occurrence with Drosophila are consistent with the properties necessary for such a vector. Southern blot hybridization, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification, and DNA sequencing showed that samples of P. regalis associated with a P strain of D. melanogaster carried P element sequences. Similarly, Drosophila ribosomal DNA sequences were identified in P. regalis samples that had been associated with Drosophila cultures. These results have potentially important evolutionary implications, not only for understanding the mechanisms by which genes may be transferred between reproductively isolated species, but also for improved detection of some host-parasite and predator-prey relationships.

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