2004 Volume 79 Issue 1 Pages 9-18
The P element appears to be one of the most recently invaded transposons of D. melanogaster. To study the dynamics and long-term fate of P elements in natural populations of D. melanogaster, 472 isofemale lines newly collected from 27 localities of Japan were examined for the P element-associated characteristics (abilities to induce and repress of P element transposition) and genomic P element composition (size classes and their numbers). There was variation in the P element-related phenotypes among local populations, but genomic P composition did not correlate strongly with the phenotype of each line: full-size P and KP elements predominated in their genomes (FP+ KP predominance). Comparison with previous results suggests a stability in the P-M system in local populations over about 15 years. In some populations, phenotypic stability for particularly long times was found: for 30 years or more Q strains predominated in Hikone and Tanushimaru, P or Q strains around Inakadate, and M' or Q strains around Tozukawa. There was no clear evidence of structural destruction underlying functional variation of P elements during this period. These results suggest that the current evolutionary status of P elements in the gene pool of D. melanogaster is not intermediary stage predicted by the original recent invasion hypothesis, and that several other factors such as the position effect play important roles.