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Aphids (Hemiptera, Aphididae) are small phytophagous insects. The aim of this study was to determine if the mariner elements found in the ant genomes are also present in Aphis fabae and Aphis hederae genomes and the possible existence of horizontal transfer events. Aphids maintain a relationship of mutualism with the ants. The close contact between these insects could favour horizontal transfer events of transposable elements. Myrmar mariner element isolated from Myrmica ruginodis and Tapinoma ibericum ants have also been found in the two Aphis species: A. fabae and A. hederae (Afabmar-Mr and Ahedmar-Mr elements). Besides, Afabmar-Mr could be an active transposon. Myrmar-like elements are also present in other insect species as well as in one Crustacean species. The phylogenetic study carried out with all Myrmar-like elements suggests the existence of horizontal transfer. Most aphids have 2n = 8 with a XX-X0 sex determination system. Their complicated life cycle is mostly parthenogenetic with sexual individuals only in autumn. The production of X0 males, originated by XX females which produce only spermatozoa with one X chromosome, must necessarily occur through specialized cytogenetic and molecular mechanisms which are not entirely known. In both aphid species, the mariner elements are located on all chromosomes, including the X chromosomes. However, on the two X chromosomes, no positive signals are detected in their small DAPI-negative telomere regions. The rDNA sites are located, as in the majority of Aphids species, on one of the telomere regions of each X chromosome. The hybridization patterns obtained by double FISH demonstrate that Afabmar-Mr and Ahedmar-Mr elements do not hybridize at the rDNA sites of their host species. Possible causes for the absence of these transposons in the rDNA genes are discussed, probably related with the X chromosome biology.


Jesús Vela, Eugenia E Montiel, Pablo Mora, Pedro Lorite, Teresa Palomeque. Aphids and Ants, Mutualistic Species, Share a Mariner Element with an Unusual Location on Aphid Chromosomes. Genes. 2021 Dec 09;12(12)

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PMID: 34946915

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