Major histocompatibility complex variation in insular populations of the Egyptian vulture: inferences about the roles of genetic drift and selection.
Journal - Molecular ecology (England )
Insular populations have attracted the attention of evolutionary biologists because of their morphological and ecological peculiarities with respect to their mainland counterparts. Founder effects and genetic drift are known to distribute neutral genetic variability in these demes. However, elucidating whether these evolutionary forces have also shaped adaptive variation is crucial to evaluate the real impact of reduced genetic variation in small populations. Genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) are classical examples of evolutionarily relevant loci because of their well-known role in pathogen confrontation and clearance. In this study, we aim to disentangle the partial roles of genetic drift and natural selection in the spatial distribution of MHC variation in insular populations. To this end, we integrate the study of neutral (22 microsatellites and one mtDNA locus) and MHC class II variation in one mainland (Iberia) and two insular populations (Fuerteventura and Menorca) of the endangered Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus). Overall, the distribution of the frequencies of individual MHC alleles (n=17 alleles from two class II B loci) does not significantly depart from neutral expectations, which indicates a prominent role for genetic drift over selection. However, our results point towards an interesting co-evolution of gene duplicates that maintains different pairs of divergent alleles in strong linkage disequilibrium on islands. We hypothesize that the co-evolution of genes may counteract the loss of genetic diversity in insular demes, maximize antigen recognition capabilities when gene diversity is reduced, and promote the co-segregation of the most efficient allele combinations to cope with local pathogen communities.© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
|ISSN : ||1365-294X|
|Mesh Heading : ||Alleles Amino Acid Sequence Amino Acid Substitution Animals Birds Crosses, Genetic Female Gene Frequency Genetic Loci Genotype Major Histocompatibility Complex Male Microsatellite Repeats Mitochondria Molecular Sequence Data Polymorphism, Genetic Population Dynamics Sequence Alignment genetics genetics genetics genetics genetics|
|Mesh Heading Relevant : ||Genetic Drift Genetic Variation Geography Selection, Genetic genetics genetics|
The role of humans in the diversification of a threatened island raptor.
Journal - BMC evolutionary biology (England )
Anthropogenic habitat modifications have led to the extinction of many species and have favoured the expansion of others. Nonetheless, the possible role of humans as a diversifying force in vertebrate evolution has rarely been considered, especially for species with long generation times. We examine the influence that humans have had on the colonization and phenotypic and genetic differentiation of an insular population of a long-lived raptor species, the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus).The morphological comparison between the Canarian Egyptian vultures and the main and closest population in Western Europe (Iberia) indicated that insular vultures are significantly heavier (16%) and larger (about 3%) than those from Iberia. Bayesian and standard genetic analyses also showed differentiation (FST = 0.11, p < 0.01). The inference of changes in the effective size of the Canarian deme, using two likelihood-based Bayesian approaches, suggested that the establishment of this insular population took place some 2500 years ago, matching the date of human colonization. This is consistent with the lack of earlier fossils.Archaeological remains show that first colonizers were Berber people from northern Africa who imported goats. This new and abundant food source could have allowed vultures to colonize, expand and adapt to the island environment. Our results suggest that anthropogenic environmental change can induce diversification and that this process may take place on an ecological time scale (less than 200 generations), even in the case of a long-lived species.