Article

MHC diversity and differential exposure to pathogens in kestrels (Aves: Falconidae).

Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC), Pabellón de Perú, Avda. Maria Luisa s/n, 41013, Sevilla, Spain.
Molecular Ecology (Impact Factor: 6.28). 02/2010; 19(4):691-705. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04507.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Pathogen diversity is thought to drive major histocompatibility complex (MHC) polymorphism given that host's immune repertories are dependent on antigen recognition capabilities. Here, we surveyed an extensive community of pathogens (n = 35 taxa) and MHC diversity in mainland versus island subspecies of the Eurasian kestrel Falco tinnunculus and in a sympatric mainland population of the phylogenetically related lesser kestrel Falco naumanni. Insular subspecies are commonly exposed to impoverished pathogen communities whilst different species' ecologies and contrasting life-history traits may lead to different levels of pathogen exposure. Although specific host traits may explain differential particular infections, overall pathogen diversity, richness and prevalence were higher in the truly cosmopolitan, euriphagous and long-distance disperser Eurasian kestrel than in the estenophagous, steppe-specialist, philopatric but long-distance migratory lesser kestrel. Accordingly, the continental population of Eurasian kestrels displayed a higher number (64 vs. 49) as well as more divergent alleles at both MHC class I and class II loci. Detailed analyses of amino acid diversity revealed that significant differences between both species were exclusive to those functionally important codons comprising the antigen binding sites. The lowest pathogen burdens and the smallest but still quite divergent set of MHC alleles (n = 16) were found in island Eurasian kestrels, where the rates of allele fixation at MHC loci seem to have occurred faster than at neutral markers. The results presented in this study would therefore support the role of pathogen diversity and abundance in shaping patterns of genetic variation at evolutionary relevant MHC genes.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
138 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Emergent infectious diseases represent a major threat for biodiversity in fragmented habitat networks, but their dynamics in host metapopulations remain largely unexplored. We studied a large community of pathogens (including 26 haematozoans, bacteria and viruses as determined through polymerase chain reaction assays) in a highly fragmented mainland bird metapopulation. Contrary to recent studies, which have established that the prevalence of pathogens increase with habitat fragmentation owing to crowding and habitat-edge effects, the analysed pathogen parameters were neither dependent on host densities nor related to the spatial structure of the metapopulation. We provide, to our knowledge, the first empirical evidence for a positive effect of host population size on pathogen prevalence, richness and diversity. These new insights into the interplay between habitat fragmentation and pathogens reveal properties of a host-pathogen system resembling island environments, suggesting that severe habitat loss and fragmentation could lower pathogen pressure in small populations.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 01/2011; 278(1718):2668-76. · 5.68 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Populations of Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) have been isolated on two of the Commander Islands (Bering and Mednyi) from the circumpolar distributed mainland population since the Pleistocene. In 1970-1980, an epizootic outbreak of mange caused a severe population decline on Mednyi Island. Genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) play a primary role in infectious disease resistance. The main objectives of our study were to compare contemporary variation of MHC class II in mainland and island Arctic foxes, and to document the effects of the isolation and the recent bottleneck on MHC polymorphism by analyzing samples from historical and contemporary Arctic foxes. In 184 individuals, we found 25 unique MHC class II DRB and DQB alleles, and identified evidence of balancing selection maintaining allelic lineages over time at both loci. Twenty different MHC alleles were observed in mainland foxes and eight in Bering Island foxes. The historical Mednyi population contained five alleles and all contemporary individuals were monomorphic at both DRB and DQB. Our data indicate that despite positive and diversifying selection leading to elevated rates of amino acid replacement in functionally important antigen-binding sites, below a certain population size, balancing selection may not be strong enough to maintain genetic diversity in functionally important genes. This may have important fitness consequences and might explain the high pathogen susceptibility in some island populations. This is the first study that compares MHC diversity before and after a bottleneck in a wild canid population using DNA from museum samples.
    Ecology and Evolution 01/2012; 2(1):165-80. · 1.66 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Comparison of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes across vertebrate species can reveal molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of adaptive immunity-related proteins. As the first terrestrial tetrapods, amphibians deserve special attention because of their exposure to probably increased spectrum of microorganisms compared with ancestral aquatic fishes. Knowledge regarding the evolutionary patterns and mechanisms associated with amphibian MHC genes remains limited. The goal of the present study was to isolate MHC class I genes from two Rhacophoridae species (Rhacophorus omeimontis and Polypedates megacephalus) and examine their evolution. RESULTS: We identified 27 MHC class I alleles spanning the region from exon 2 to 4 in 38 tree frogs. The available evidence suggests that these 27 sequences all belong to classical MHC class I (MHC Ia) genes. Although several anuran species only display one MHC class Ia locus, at least two or three loci were observed in P. megacephalus and R. omeimontis, indicating that the number of MHC class Ia loci varies among anuran species. Recombination events, which mainly involve the entire exons, played an important role in shaping the genetic diversity of the 27 MHC class Ia alleles. In addition, signals of positive selection were found in Rhacophoridae MHC class Ia genes. Amino acid sites strongly suggested by program to be under positive selection basically accorded with the putative antigen binding sites deduced from crystal structure of human HLA. Phylogenetic relationships among MHC class I alleles revealed the presence of trans-species polymorphisms. CONCLUSIONS: In the two Rhacophoridae species (1) there are two or three MHC class Ia loci; (2) recombination mainly occurs between the entire exons of MHC class Ia genes; (3) balancing selection, gene duplication and recombination all contribute to the diversity of MHC class Ia genes. These findings broaden our knowledge on the evolution of amphibian MHC systems.
    BMC Evolutionary Biology 06/2013; 13(1):113. · 3.29 Impact Factor

Full-text

View
62 Downloads
Available from
May 30, 2014