Context-dependent associations between heterozygosity and immune variation in a wild carnivore Evolutionary ecology and behaviour
MetadataShow full item record
Background: A multitude of correlations between heterozygosity and fitness proxies associated with disease have been reported from wild populations, but the genetic basis of these associations is unresolved. We used a longitudinal dataset on wild Galapagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) to develop a relatively new perspective on this problem, by testing for associations between heterozygosity and immune variation across age classes and between ecological contexts. Results: Homozygosity by locus was negatively correlated with serum immunoglobulin G production in pups (0-3 months of age), suggesting that reduced genetic diversity has a detrimental influence on the early development of immune defence in the Galapagos sea lion. In addition, homozygosity by locus was positively correlated with total circulating leukocyte concentration in juveniles (6-24 months of age), but only in a colony subject to the anthropogenic environmental impacts of development, pollution and introduced species, which suggests that reduced genetic diversity influences mature immune system activity in circumstances of high antigen exposure. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate the environmental context-dependency of the phenotypic expression of immune variation, which is implicit in the theory of ecoimmunology, but which has been rarely demonstrated in the wild. They also indicate that heterozygosity may be linked to the maintenance of heterogeneity in mammalian immune system development and response to infection, adding to the body of evidence on the nature of the mechanistic link between heterozygosity and fitness.
Brock , P M , Goodman , S J , Hall , A J , Cruz , M & Acevedo-Whitehouse , K 2015 , ' Context-dependent associations between heterozygosity and immune variation in a wild carnivore Evolutionary ecology and behaviour ' BMC Evolutionary Biology , vol. 15 , no. 1 . https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-015-0519-6
BMC Evolutionary Biology
© 2015 Brock et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Items in the St Andrews Research Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.