DNA transposon dynamics in populations of Daphnia pulex with and without sex

Sarah Schaack, Ellen J. Pritham, Abby Wolf, Michael Lynch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


We investigate the role of recombination in transposable element (TE) proliferation in the cyclical parthenogen, Daphnia pulex. Recombination provides a mechanism by which the rate of both TE gain and loss can be accelerated, a duality that has long intrigued many biologists interested in the influence of sex on mutation accumulation. We compared TE loads among populations of D. pulex where sex occurs regularly (cyclical parthenogens or 'sexuals') with those in which the ability to reproduce sexually has been completely lost (obligate 'asexuals') for six different families of DNA transposons. Transposon display assays showed that sexuals have more TEs than asexuals, contrary to the expectations under Muller's ratchet but consistent with the idea that sex facilitates TE spread. Sexuals also exhibit higher insertion site polymorphism among lineages, as predicted because recombination accelerates rates of loss and gain. Asexuals, however, have proportionally more singletons (loci occupied in a single isolate), which differs from previous studies where selfing and outcrossing were used as a proxy for high and low recombination. Our multi-element survey reveals that the impact of sex on TE proliferation is consistent among different Class II TE families and we discuss the genomic consequences of different reproductive strategies over long time periods. This journal is

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2381-2387
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1692
StatePublished - Aug 7 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cyclical parthenogenesis
  • Daphnia pulex
  • Mutation
  • Recombination
  • Sex
  • Transposable elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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