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MHC class II B diversity in blue tits: a preliminary study

  • Juan Rivero-de Aguilar
  • Elske Schut
  • Santiago Merino
  • Javier Martinez
  • Jan Komdeur
  • Helena Westerdahl
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 1878-1889
Publication/Series: Ecology and Evolution
Volume: 3
Issue: 7
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

In this study, we partly characterize major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II B in the blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus). A total of 22 individuals from three different European locations: Spain, The Netherlands, and Sweden were screened for MHC allelic diversity. The MHC genes were investigated using both PCR-based methods and unamplified genomic DNA with restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and southern blots. A total of 13 different exon 2 sequences were obtained independently from DNA and/or RNA, thus confirming gene transcription and likely functionality of the genes. Nine out of 13 alleles were found in more than one country, and two alleles appeared in all countries. Positive selection was detected in the region coding for the peptide binding region (PBR). A maximum of three alleles per individual was detected by sequencing and the RFLP pattern consisted of 4-7 fragments, indicating a minimum number of 2-4 loci per individual. A phylogenetic analysis, demonstrated that the blue tit sequences are divergent compared to sequences from other passerines resembling a different MHC lineage than those possessed by most passerines studied to date.


  • Biological Sciences
  • Cyanistes caeruleus
  • major histocompatibility complex
  • Parus caeruleus
  • passerine


  • ISSN: 2045-7758
Helena Westerdahl
E-mail: helena [dot] westerdahl [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer


+46 46 222 36 69



Research group

Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab


Doctoral students and postdocs

Research fellows


Luz Garcia-Longoria

PhD students, main supervisor

Samantha Mellinger

PhD students, assistant supervisor

Gustaf Ekelund Ugge

Helena Westerdahl w house sparrow