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Sex-specific impact of inbreeding on pathogen load in the striped dolphin

Cite this dataset

Gkafas, Georgios et al. (2020). Sex-specific impact of inbreeding on pathogen load in the striped dolphin [Dataset]. Dryad.


The impact of inbreeding on fitness has been widely studied and provides consequential inference about adaptive potential and the impact on survival for reduced and fragmented natural populations. Correlations between heterozygosity and fitness are common in the literature, but they rarely inform about the likely mechanisms. Here we investigate a pathology with clear impact on health in striped dolphin hosts (a nematode infection that compromises lung function). Dolphins varied with respect to their parasite burden of this highly pathogenic lung nematode (Skrjabinalius guevarai). Genetic diversity revealed by high resolution restriction associated DNA (43,018 RADseq SNPs) analyses showed a clear association between heterozygosity and pathogen load, but only for female dolphins, for which the more heterozygous individuals had lower Skrjabinalius guevarai burden. One locus identified by RADseq was a strong outlier in association with parasite load (heterozygous in all uninfected females, homozygous for 94% of infected females), found in an intron of the Citron Rho-Interacting Serine/Theonine Kinase (CIT) locus (associated with milk production in mammals). Allelic variation at the Class II MHC DQB locus was also assessed and found to be associated with both regional variation and with pathogen load. Both sex specificity and the identification of associating functional loci provide insight into the mechanisms by which more inbred individuals may be more susceptible to the infection of this parasite.


Stranded animals.

Amplification of the exon 2 of the DQB1 locus of the Major Histocompatibillity Complex (MHC) Class II.

ddRADseq analysis


Hellenic State Scholarship Foundation

Wildlife Service of the Conselleria d'Agricultura, Medi Ambient, Canvi Climatic i Desenvolupament Rural of the Generalitat Valenciana