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Balancing selection, sexual selection and geographic structure in MHC genes of Great Snipe
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Population Biology.
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2010 (English)In: Genetica, ISSN 0016-6707, E-ISSN 1573-6857, Vol. 138, no 4, 453-461 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Signatures of balancing selection are often found when investigating the extremely polymorphic regions of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, and it is generally accepted that selective forces maintain this polymorphism. However, the exact nature of the selection is controversial. Theoretical studies have mainly focused on overdominance and/or frequency dependent selection while laboratory studies have emphasised the role of mate choice. Empirical field data, on the other hand, have been relatively scarce. Previously we have found that geographic structure in MHC class II genes of the Great Snipe (Gallinago media) is too pronounced to be explained by neutral forces alone. Here we test the hypothesis that sexual selection on MHC alleles may be influencing this geographic structure between mountain and lowland populations. We found evidence of balancing selection acting on MHC genes in the form of a higher rate of amino-acid changing substitutions compared to silent substitutions in the peptide binding regions. Not only natural selection but also sexual selection may influence MHC polymorphism in this bird because certain MHC alleles have been found to be associated with higher male mating success. Contrary to predictions from negative frequency dependent selection, males carrying locally rare alleles did not have a mating advantage. Instead, the mating success of alleles in a mountain population was positively correlated to their relative frequency in the mountains compared to the lowlands, implying that locally adapted MHC alleles may also be favoured by sexual selection.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 138, no 4, 453-461 p.
Keyword [en]
Balancing selection, Bird, Mate choice, Major histocompatibility complex, Rare allele advantage
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-136920DOI: 10.1007/s10709-008-9335-xISI: 000275460800004PubMedID: 19052880OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-136920DiVA: diva2:377640
Available from: 2010-12-14 Created: 2010-12-14 Last updated: 2013-09-05Bibliographically approved

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Ekblom, Robert
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