Transposable element evolution in Heliconius suggests genome diversity within Lepidoptera

David Ray, Christine A. Lavoie, Roy N. Platt, Peter A. Novick, Brian A. Counterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Transposable elements (TEs) have the potential to impact genome structure, function and evolution in profound ways. In order to understand the contribution of transposable elements (TEs) to Heliconius melpomene, we queried the H. melpomene draft sequence to identify repetitive sequences. RESULTS: We determined that TEs comprise ~25% of the genome. The predominant class of TEs (~12% of the genome) was the non-long terminal repeat (non-LTR) retrotransposons, including a novel SINE family. However, this was only slightly higher than content derived from DNA transposons, which are diverse, with several families having mobilized in the recent past. Compared to the only other well-studied lepidopteran genome, Bombyx mori, H. melpomene exhibits a higher DNA transposon content and a distinct repertoire of retrotransposons. We also found that H. melpomene exhibits a high rate of TE turnover with few older elements accumulating in the genome. CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis represents
Original languageEnglish
Article number21
Pages (from-to)21
JournalMobile DNA
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2 2013


  • Butterfly
  • Genomic deletions
  • Heliconius melpomene
  • Lepidopteran
  • Transposable elements


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