Characterization of MHC class IIB for four endangered Australian freshwater fishes obtained from ecologically divergent populations

Seraina Emilia Bracamonte, Steve Smith, Michael Hammer, Scott A Pavey, Paul Sunnucks, Luciano Bellagamba Beheregaray

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Genetic diversity is an essential aspect of species viability, and assessments of neutral genetic diversity are regularly implemented in captive breeding and conservation programs. Despite their importance, information from adaptive markers is rarely included in such programs. A promising marker of significance in fitness and adaptive potential is the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a key component of the adaptive immune system. Populations of Australian freshwater fishes are generally declining in numbers due to human impacts and the introduction of exotic species, a scenario of particular concern for members of the family Percichthyidae, several of which are listed as nationally vulnerable or endangered, and hence subject to management plans, captive breeding, and restoration plans. We used a next-generation sequencing approach to characterize the MHC IIB locus and provide a conservative description of its levels of diversity in four endangered percichthyids: Gadopsis marmoratus, Macquaria australasica, Nannoperca australis, and Nannoperca obscura. Evidence is presented for a duplicated MHC IIB locus, positively selected sites and recombination of MHC alleles. Relatively moderate levels of diversity were detected in the four species, as well as in different ecotypes within each species. Phylogenetic analyses revealed genus specific clustering of alleles and no allele sharing among species. There were also no shared alleles observed between two ecotypes within G. marmoratus and within M. australasica, which might be indicative of ecologically-driven divergence and/or long divergence times. This represents the first characterization and assessment of MHC diversity for Percichthyidae, and also for Australian freshwater fishes in general, providing key genetic resources for a vertebrate group of increasing conservation concern.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468 - 476
Number of pages9
JournalFish and Shellfish Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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