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Contrasting patterns of diversity and population differentiation at the innate immunity gene toll-like receptor 2 (tlr2) in two sympatric rodent species.

  • Barbara Tschirren
  • Martin Andersson
  • Kristin Scherman
  • Helena Westerdahl
  • Lars Råberg
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 720-731
Publication/Series: Evolution
Volume: 66
Issue: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Comparing patterns of diversity and divergence between populations at immune genes and neutral markers can give insights into the nature and geographic scale of parasite-mediated selection. To date, studies investigating such patterns of selection in vertebrates have primarily focused on the acquired branch of the immune system, whereas it remains largely unknown how parasite-mediated selection shapes innate immune genes both within and across vertebrate populations. Here, we present a study on the diversity and population differentiation at the innate immune gene Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) across nine populations of yellow-necked mice (Apodemus flavicollis) and bank voles (Myodes glareolus) in southern Sweden. In yellow-necked mice, TLR2 diversity was very low, as was TLR2 population differentiation compared to neutral loci. In contrast, several TLR2 haplotypes co-occurred at intermediate frequencies within and across bank vole populations, and pronounced isolation by distance between populations was observed. The diversity and differentiation at neutral loci was similar in the two species. These results indicate that parasite-mediated selection has been acting in dramatically different ways on a given immune gene in ecologically similar and sympatric species. Furthermore, the finding of TLR2 population differentiation at a small geographical scale in bank voles highlights that vertebrate innate immune defense may be evolutionarily more dynamic than has previously been appreciated.


  • Evolutionary Biology


  • Borrelia in rodents
  • CAnMove
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 1558-5646
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