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Type: Journal article
Title: Low major histocompatibility complex diversity in the Tasmanian devil predates European settlement and may explain susceptibility to disease epidemics
Author: Morris, K.
Austin, J.
Belov, K.
Citation: Biology Letters, 2013; 9(1):1-6
Publisher: The Royal Society
Issue Date: 2013
ISSN: 1744-9561
Statement of
Katrina Morris, Jeremy J. Austin and Katherine Belov
Abstract: The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is at risk of extinction owing to the emergence of a contagious cancer known as devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). The emergence and spread of DFTD has been linked to low genetic diversity in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). We examined MHC diversity in historical and ancient devils to determine whether loss of diversity is recent or predates European settlement in Australia. Our results reveal no additional diversity in historical Tasmanian samples. Mainland devils had common modern variants plus six new variants that are highly similar to existing alleles. We conclude that low MHC diversity has been a feature of devil populations since at least the Mid-Holocene and could explain their tumultuous history of population crashes.
Keywords: Animals
Facial Neoplasms
Genetic Predisposition to Disease
Cloning, Molecular
Polymerase Chain Reaction
Sequence Alignment
Sequence Analysis, DNA
Major Histocompatibility Complex
Amino Acid Sequence
Time Factors
Genetic Variation
Endangered Species
Rights: © 2012 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0900
Grant ID: ARC
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest
Environment Institute Leaders publications
IPAS publications

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