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Wetter climates select for higher immune gene diversity in resident, but not migratory, songbirds

O'Connor, Emily A. LU ; Hasselquist, Dennis LU ; Nilsson, Jan Åke LU ; Westerdahl, Helena LU and Cornwallis, Charlie K. LU (2020) In Proceedings. Biological sciences 287(1919).
Abstract

Pathogen communities can vary substantially between geographical regions due to different environmental conditions. However, little is known about how host immune systems respond to environmental variation across macro-ecological and evolutionary scales. Here, we select 37 species of songbird that inhabit diverse environments, including African and Palaearctic residents and Afro-Palaearctic migrants, to address how climate and habitat have influenced the evolution of key immune genes, the major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I). Resident species living in wetter regions, especially in Africa, had higher MHC-I diversity than species living in drier regions, irrespective of the habitats they occupy. By contrast, no relationship... (More)

Pathogen communities can vary substantially between geographical regions due to different environmental conditions. However, little is known about how host immune systems respond to environmental variation across macro-ecological and evolutionary scales. Here, we select 37 species of songbird that inhabit diverse environments, including African and Palaearctic residents and Afro-Palaearctic migrants, to address how climate and habitat have influenced the evolution of key immune genes, the major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I). Resident species living in wetter regions, especially in Africa, had higher MHC-I diversity than species living in drier regions, irrespective of the habitats they occupy. By contrast, no relationship was found between MHC-I diversity and precipitation in migrants. Our results suggest that the immune system of birds has evolved greater pathogen recognition in wetter tropical regions. Furthermore, evolving transcontinental migration appears to have enabled species to escape wet, pathogen-rich areas at key periods of the year, relaxing selection for diversity in immune genes and potentially reducing immune system costs.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
birds, climate, immune genes, major histocompatibility complex, pathogens
in
Proceedings. Biological sciences
volume
287
issue
1919
article number
2675
publisher
Royal Society
external identifiers
  • scopus:85078688405
  • pmid:31992169
ISSN
1471-2954
DOI
10.1098/rspb.2019.2675
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
72595691-21bc-4d01-b1c6-96f371e6f5c6
date added to LUP
2020-02-11 16:36:50
date last changed
2020-06-03 05:17:33
@article{72595691-21bc-4d01-b1c6-96f371e6f5c6,
  abstract     = {<p>Pathogen communities can vary substantially between geographical regions due to different environmental conditions. However, little is known about how host immune systems respond to environmental variation across macro-ecological and evolutionary scales. Here, we select 37 species of songbird that inhabit diverse environments, including African and Palaearctic residents and Afro-Palaearctic migrants, to address how climate and habitat have influenced the evolution of key immune genes, the major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I). Resident species living in wetter regions, especially in Africa, had higher MHC-I diversity than species living in drier regions, irrespective of the habitats they occupy. By contrast, no relationship was found between MHC-I diversity and precipitation in migrants. Our results suggest that the immune system of birds has evolved greater pathogen recognition in wetter tropical regions. Furthermore, evolving transcontinental migration appears to have enabled species to escape wet, pathogen-rich areas at key periods of the year, relaxing selection for diversity in immune genes and potentially reducing immune system costs.</p>},
  author       = {O'Connor, Emily A. and Hasselquist, Dennis and Nilsson, Jan Åke and Westerdahl, Helena and Cornwallis, Charlie K.},
  issn         = {1471-2954},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {01},
  number       = {1919},
  publisher    = {Royal Society},
  series       = {Proceedings. Biological sciences},
  title        = {Wetter climates select for higher immune gene diversity in resident, but not migratory, songbirds},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.2675},
  doi          = {10.1098/rspb.2019.2675},
  volume       = {287},
  year         = {2020},
}