Genetic Variation at the MHC in a Population of Introduced Wild Turkeys

Miranda M. Bauer, Marcia M. Miller, W. Elwood Briles, Kent M. Reed

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3 Scopus citations


Genetic variation in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is known to affect disease resistance in many species. Investigations of MHC diversity in populations of wild species have focused on the antigen presenting class IIβ molecules due to the known polymorphic nature of these genes and the role these molecules play in pathogen recognition. Studies of MHC haplotype variation in the turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) are limited. This study was designed to examine MHC diversity in a group of Eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) collected during population expansion following reintroduction of the species in southern Wisconsin, USA. Southern blotting with BG and class IIβ probes and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping was used to measure MHC variation. SNP analysis focused on single copy MHC genes flanking the highly polymorphic class IIβ genes. Southern blotting identified 27 class IIβ phenotypes, whereas SNP analysis identified 13 SNP haplotypes occurring in 28 combined genotypes. Results show that genetic diversity estimates based on RFLP (Southern blot) analysis underestimate the level of variation detected by SNP analysis. Sequence analysis of the mitochondrial D-loop identified 7 mitochondrial haplotypes (mitotypes) in the sampled birds. Results show that wild turkeys located in southern Wisconsin have a genetically diverse MHC and originate from several maternal lineages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-228
Number of pages19
JournalAnimal Biotechnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2009-35205-05302) to KMR from the National Science Foundation DCB-9000031 to MMM and WEB; MMB was supported in part by a USDA training grant in Microbial and Animal Health Genomics (2006-38411-7096).


  • MHC
  • Mitotype
  • SNP haplotype
  • Turkey


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