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Proc Biol Sci. Mar 7, 2001; 268(1466): 479–485.
PMCID: PMC1088630

Association between major histocompatibility complex class IIB alleles and resistance to Aeromonas salmonicida in Atlantic salmon.

Abstract

We have tested the importance of genetic variation in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class IIB in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) for survival after challenge with a highly virulent bacterial pathogen. Forty juvenile full siblings from each of 120 families were infected with the bacterium Aeromonas salmonicida, which causes high mortality in salmon due to furunculosis. Fishes from high-resistance (HR, < 35% mortality) and low-resistance (L,R, > 80% mortality) families were screened for their MHC class IIB genotypes using the denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) technique. The exon 2 sequences, encoding the major part of the peptide-binding region, were established for each DGGE fragment. One allele, e, containing a missense single base substitution was significantly more prevalent in HR families than in LR families. An odds-ratio test showed that broods carrying this allele had a 12-fold higher chance of being HR than broods without the e allele. A second allele, i, showed significantly higher frequencies in uninfected and surviving individuals than in infected dead individuals. A third allele, j, tended to more prevalent both in LR families and in individuals that had died of the infection. There was no correlation between MHC heterozygosity and resistance to A. salmonicida. Our results support the hypothesis that MHC polymorphism is maintained through pathogen-driven selection acting by means of frequency-dependent selection rather than heterozygous advantage.

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Selected References

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