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MHC diversity, malaria and lifetime reproductive success in collared flycatchers
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Population and Conservation Biology.
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2012 (English)In: Molecular Ecology, ISSN 0962-1083, E-ISSN 1365-294X, Vol. 21, no 10, 2469-2479 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes encode proteins involved in the recognition of parasite-derived antigens. Their extreme polymorphism is presumed to be driven by co-evolution with parasites. Hostparasite co-evolution was also hypothesized to optimize within-individual MHC diversity at the intermediate level. Here, we use unique data on lifetime reproductive success (LRS) of female collared flycatchers to test whether LRS is associated with within-individual MHC class II diversity. We also examined the association between MHC and infection with avian malaria. Using 454 sequencing, we found that individual flycatchers carry between 3 and 23 functional MHC class II B alleles. Predictions of the optimality hypothesis were not confirmed by our data as the prevalence of blood parasites decreased with functional MHC diversity. Furthermore, we did not find evidence for an association between MHC diversity and LRS.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 21, no 10, 2469-2479 p.
Keyword [en]
fitness, genetic variation, immune response, major histocompatibility complex, optimality hypothesis, parasites, selection
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-174920DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05547.xISI: 000303388300014OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-174920DiVA: diva2:529504
Available from: 2012-05-30 Created: 2012-05-30 Last updated: 2013-09-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Avian malaria, life-history trade-offs and interspecific competition in Ficedula flycatchers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Avian malaria, life-history trade-offs and interspecific competition in Ficedula flycatchers
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates the impact of avian malaria (Haemosporidia) parasites on the outcome of interspecific competition between two closely related bird species, pied (Ficedula hypoleuca) and collared (F. albicollis) flycatchers. I further investigated how variation in timing of breeding, life history strategies and immune competence genes (MHC genes) modulate the fitness effects of malaria parasites in one of the two species i.e. collared flycatchers. Collared flycatchers colonized the Baltic island Öland in the late 1950-ties and has since then been expanding their breeding range while competitively excluding pied flycatchers from the favourable habitats (deciduous forests). I investigated the underlying mechanisms behind this exclusion by combining detailed long-term breeding data with modern molecular genetic techniques identifying both the presence/absence and lineage specificity of haemosporidian blood parasites. I found that the rapid decline of pied flycatchers can be explained by the combined effects of competition over nestling sites, hybridization and haemosporidian infections. Haemosporidian infections have a negative impact on survival of pied flycatcher females but no detectable effect on collared flycatchers’ longevity or reproductive success. This may be due to the fact that collared flycatchers carry (and are potentially exposed to) a higher diversity of parasites than pied flycatchers, which in turn may select for a higher diversity of MHC genes and hence a better overall protection from the negative impact of parasites. Indeed, functional MHC diversity correlates negatively with malaria prevalence among collared flycatchers from Gotland. Moreover, I found that both, malaria infection intensity and immunoglobulin level influences how infected collared flycatchers respond to increased nestling food-demands. The latter results mean that there is variation in allocation strategies (i.e. in resource allocation between reproductive effort and immune competence) within the collared flycatcher population. Hence, this population has the ability to respond to novel selection pressures in terms of optimal allocation of resources into immune functions. In summary, my results show that local parasites may facilitate the expansion of a new colonizer. This is important in the context of global climate change that will probably increase the colonization rate of southern species and lead to novel host-parasite interactions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. 59 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1056
Blood parasites, competitive asymmetry, immunocompetence, interspecific competition, life-history trade-offs, MHC, parasite-driven selection
National Category
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-204349 (URN)978-91-554-8708-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-09-13, Zootisalen, Evolution Museum Building, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2013-08-23 Created: 2013-07-31 Last updated: 2015-11-24Bibliographically approved

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Sendecka, JoannaKulma, KatarzynaGustafsson, Lars
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