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Both candidate gene and neutral genetic diversity correlate with parasite resistance in female Mediterranean mouflon

Portanier, Elodie, Garel, Mathieu, Devillard, Sébastien, Maillard, Daniel, Poissant, Jocelyn, Galan, Maxime, Benabed, Slimania, Poirel, Marie-Thérèse, Duhayer, Jeanne, Itty, Christian, Bourgoin, Gilles
BMC ecology 2019 v.19 no.1 pp. 12
Coccidiomorphea, Nematoda, alleles, exons, females, gastrointestinal nematodes, gastrointestinal system, gene frequency, genetic variation, herbivores, heterozygosity, microsatellite repeats, mouflon, outbreeding depression, parasite load, pathogens, population dynamics, sheep
BACKGROUND: Parasite infections can have substantial impacts on population dynamics and are accordingly a key challenge for wild population management. Here we studied genetic mechanisms driving parasite resistance in a large herbivore through a comprehensive approach combining measurements of neutral (16 microsatellites) and adaptive (MHC DRB1 exon 2) genetic diversity and two types of gastrointestinal parasites (nematodes and coccidia). RESULTS: While accounting for other extrinsic and intrinsic predictors known to impact parasite load, we show that both neutral genetic diversity and DRB1 are associated with resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes. Intermediate levels of multi-locus heterozygosity maximized nematodes resistance, suggesting that both in- and outbreeding depression might occur in the population. DRB1 heterozygosity and specific alleles effects were detected, suggesting the occurrence of heterozygote advantage, rare-allele effects and/or fluctuating selection. On the contrary, no association was detected between genetic diversity and resistance to coccidia, indicating that different parasite classes are impacted by different genetic drivers. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides important insights for large herbivores and wild sheep pathogen management, and in particular suggests that factors likely to impact genetic diversity and allelic frequencies, including global changes, are also expected to impact parasite resistance.