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Data from: Lack of evidence for selection favouring MHC haplotypes that combine high functional diversity


Gaigher, Arnaud et al. (2017), Data from: Lack of evidence for selection favouring MHC haplotypes that combine high functional diversity, Dryad, Dataset,


High rates of gene duplication and the highest levels of functional allelic diversity in vertebrate genomes are the main hallmarks of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a multigene family with a primordial role in pathogen recognition. The usual tight linkage among MHC gene duplicates may provide an opportunity for the evolution of haplotypes that associate functionally divergent alleles and thus grant the transmission of optimal levels of diversity to coming generations. Even though such associations may be a crucial component of disease resistance, this hypothesis has been given little attention in wild populations. Here, we leveraged pedigree data from a barn owl (Tyto alba) population to characterize MHC haplotype structure across two MHC class I (MHC-I) and two MHC class IIB (MHC-IIB) duplicates, in order to test the hypothesis that haplotypes’ genetic diversity is higher than expected from randomly associated alleles. After showing that MHC loci are tightly linked within classes, we found limited evidence for shifts towards MHC haplotypes combining high diversity. Neither amino acid nor functional within-haplotype diversity were significantly higher than in random sets of haplotypes, regardless of MHC class. Our results therefore provide no evidence for selection towards high-diversity MHC haplotypes in barn owls. Rather, high rates of convergent evolution may constrain the evolution of high-diversity haplotypes at MHC-I, while, in contrast, for MHC-IIB, fixed differences among loci may provide barn owls with already optimized functional diversity. This suggests that at the MHC-I and MHC-IIB, respectively, different evolutionary dynamics may govern the evolution of within-haplotype diversity.

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