Very high MHC Class IIB diversity without spatial differentiation in the mediterranean population of greater Flamingos

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Gillingham M. A. F. , BECHET A., Courtiol A., Rendon-Martos M., AMAT J. A. , SAMRAOUI B., ...More

BMC EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY, vol.17, 2017 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 17
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s12862-017-0905-3


Background: Selective pressure from pathogens is thought to shape the allelic diversity of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes in vertebrates. In particular, both local adaptation to pathogens and gene flow are thought to explain a large part of the intraspecific variation observed in MHC allelic diversity. To date, however, evidence that adaptation to locally prevalent pathogens maintains MHC variation is limited to species with limited dispersal and, hence, reduced gene flow. On the one hand high gene flow can disrupt local adaptation in species with high dispersal rates, on the other hand such species are much more likely to experience spatial variation in pathogen pressure, suggesting that there may be intense pathogen mediated selection pressure operating across breeding sites in panmictic species. Such pathogen mediated selection pressure operating across breeding sites should therefore be sufficient to maintain high MHC diversity in high dispersing species in the absence of local adaptation mechanisms. We used the Greater Flamingo, Phoenicopterus roseus, a long-lived colonial bird showing a homogeneous genetic structure of neutral markers at the scale of the Mediterranean region, to test the prediction that higher MHC allelic diversity with no population structure should occur in large panmictic populations of long-distance dispersing birds than in other resident species.