MHC genes in passerine birds – diversity and evolution
This project addresses how selection can maintain high levels of genetic diversity at immune genes of the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). MHC genes code for molecules that are essential components in the immune system in most vertebrates, by holding receptors which bind to potential pathogens. After an interaction between the MHC molecule and a pathogen, an immune response will be triggered. To maintain an advantageous immune defence, this process will benefit individuals that carry a wide range of polymorphism at the MHC genes, since these individuals will have an immunological shield against a wide range of potential pathogens. Consequently, this involves a strong selection pressure toward diversity which can be reflected in the extensive polymorphism observed at the MHC genes, making the MHC genes promising model genes for studies of selective forces in nature.
Anmarkrud JA, Johnsen A, Bachmann L, Lifjeld JT. 2010. Ancestral polymorphism in exon 2 of bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) MHC class II B genes. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23: 1206-1217 (Abstract)
Canal D, Alcaide M, Anmarkrud JA & Potti J (2010) Towards the simplification of MHC typing protocols: targeting classical MHC class II genes in a passerine, the pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca. BMC Research Notes 3. (Abstract)) )