THE mariner transposable element is a small member of the short inverted terminal repeat class thought to transpose through a DNA intermediate 1. Originally described in Drosophila mauritiana2, it is now known in several species of the family Drosophilidae3,4, and in a moth Hyalophora cecropia5. Here I use primers designed to represent regions of amino-acid conservation between the putative transposase genes of the D. mauritiana and H. cecropia elements to amplify equivalent regions of presumed mariner elements from ten other insects representing six additional orders, including the malaria-vector mosquito, Anopheles gambiae. Sequences of multiple clones from each species reveal a diverse array of mariner elements, with multiple subfamilies in the genomes of some insects, indicating both vertical inheritance and horizontal transfers. An intact open reading frame in at least one clone from each species suggests each may carry functional transposable elements. Therefore the mariner element is an excellent candidate for development of genetic transformation systems for non-drosophilid insects, and possibly other arthropods.
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