Transposable elements (TEs), which promote various kinds of mutations, constitute a large fraction of the genome. How they invade natural populations and species is therefore of fundamental importance for understanding the dynamics of genetic diversity and genome composition. On the basis of 85 samples of natural populations of Drosophila simulans, we report the distributions of the genome insertion site numbers of nine TEs that were chosen because they have a low average number of sites. Most populations were found to have 0–3 insertion sites, but some of them had a significantly higher number of sites for a given TE. The populations located in regions outside Africa had the highest number of sites for all elements except HMS Beagle and Coral, suggesting a recent increase in the activity of some TEs associated with the colonization patterns of Drosophila simulans. The element Tirant had a very distinctive pattern of distribution: it was identified mainly in populations from East Africa and some islands in the Indian Ocean, and its insertion site number was low in all these populations. The data suggest that the genome of the entire species of Drosophila simulans may be being invaded by TEs from populations in which they are present in high copy number.
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Vol. 57 • No. 1