Allelic diversity and patterns of selection at the major histocompatibility complex class I and II loci in a threatened shorebird, the Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus)

Medardo Cruz-López, Guillermo Fernández, Helen Hipperson, Eduardo Palacios, John Cavitt, Daniel Galindo-Espinosa, Salvador Gómez del Angel, Raya Pruner, Oscar Gonzalez, Terry Burke, Clemens Küpper
2020 BMC Evolutionary Biology  
Background Understanding the structure and variability of adaptive loci such as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes is a primary research goal for evolutionary and conservation genetics. Typically, classical MHC genes show high polymorphism and are under strong balancing selection, as their products trigger the adaptive immune response in vertebrates. Here, we assess the allelic diversity and patterns of selection for MHC class I and class II loci in a threatened shorebird with
more » ... ly flexible mating and parental care behaviour, the Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus) across its broad geographic range. Results We determined the allelic and nucleotide diversity for MHC class I and class II genes using samples of 250 individuals from eight breeding population of Snowy Plovers. We found 40 alleles at MHC class I and six alleles at MHC class II, with individuals carrying two to seven different alleles (mean 3.70) at MHC class I and up to two alleles (mean 1.45) at MHC class II. Diversity was higher in the peptide-binding region, which suggests balancing selection. The MHC class I locus showed stronger signatures of both positive and negative selection than the MHC class II locus. Most alleles were present in more than one population. If present, private alleles generally occurred at very low frequencies in each population, except for the private alleles of MHC class I in one island population (Puerto Rico, lineage tenuirostris). Conclusion Snowy Plovers exhibited an intermediate level of diversity at the MHC, similar to that reported in other Charadriiformes. The differences found in the patterns of selection between the class I and II loci are consistent with the hypothesis that different mechanisms shape the sequence evolution of MHC class I and class II genes. The rarity of private alleles across populations is consistent with high natal and breeding dispersal and the low genetic structure previously observed at neutral genetic markers in this species.
doi:10.1186/s12862-020-01676-7 pmid:32912143 fatcat:v5xfjbnftndojgpe3j2jkrqneq