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Data from: Neutral genetic processes influence MHC evolution in threatened gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus)


Elbers, Jean P.; Clostio, Rachel W.; Taylor, Sabrina S. (2017), Data from: Neutral genetic processes influence MHC evolution in threatened gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), Dryad, Dataset,


Levels of adaptive genetic variation influence how species deal with environmental and ecological change, but these levels are frequently inferred using neutral genetic markers. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes play a key role in the adaptive branch of the immune system and have been used extensively to estimate levels of adaptive genetic variation. Parts of the peptide binding region, sites where MHC molecules directly interact with pathogen and self-proteins, were sequenced from a MHC class I (95/441 tortoises) and class II (245/441 tortoises) gene in threatened and non-threatened populations of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), and adaptive genetic variation at MHC genes was compared to neutral genetic variation derived from 10 microsatellite loci (441 tortoises). Genetic diversity at the MHC class II locus and microsatellites was greater in populations in the non-threatened portion of the gopher tortoise’s range (MHC class II difference in mean A = 8.11, AR = 0.79, HO = 0.51, and HE = 0.16; microsatellite difference in mean A = 1.05 and AR = 0.47). Only MHC class II sequences showed evidence of positive selection (dN/dS > 1, Z = 1.81, P = 0.04). Historical gene flow as estimated with Migrate-N was greater than recent migration estimated with BayesAss, suggesting that populations were better connected in the past when habitat was less fragmented. MHC genetic differentiation was correlated with microsatellite differentiation (Mantel r = 0.431, P = 0.001) suggesting neutral genetic processes are influencing MHC evolution, and advantageous MHC alleles could be lost due to genetic drift.

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