Chiropterans are a hotspot for horizontal transfer of DNA transposons in Mammalia

Image credit: Liliana M. Dávalos


Horizontal transfer of transposable elements is an important mechanism contributing to genetic diversity and innovation. Bats (order Chiroptera) have repeatedly been shown to experience horizontal transfer of transposable elements at what appears to be a high rate compared to other mammals. We investigated the occurrence of horizontally transferred DNA transposons involving bats. We found over 200 putative horizontally transferred elements within bats; sixteen transposons were shared across distantly related mammalian clades and two other elements were shared with a fish and two lizard species. Our results indicate that bats are a hotspot for horizontal transfer of DNA transposons. These events broadly coincide with the diversification of several bat clades, supporting the hypothesis that DNA transposon invasions have contributed to genetic diversification of bats.

Molecular Biology and Evolution 40(5), msad092
Liliana M. Dávalos
Liliana M. Dávalos
Professor of Conservation Biology

I’m interested in biodiversity, both its past and its future.