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Avian MHC genes

Most birds have more MHC (Major Histocompatibility Complex) gene copies than humans, and passerines (songbirds) in particular have a large number of duplicated MHC genes. Many passerines are migratory and encounter different pathogens at their breeding and wintering sites, and perhaps an increased selection pressure from pathogens explain the maintenance of large numbers of MHC genes in these birds.

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus). Photo: Tomas Detlaff.
Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), a study species for avian MHC research. Photo: Tomas Detlaff.

We are interested in how avian MHC genes have evolved and what role the phylogeny and selection from pathogens, respectively, have for the number of MHC gene copies in sedentary and migratory birds.

We also characterize full-length avian MHC genes and investigate to what extent different types of MHC genes are expressed. Finally, we study binding properties of avian MHC class I molecules.

Recent publications

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