Towards the non-invasive assessment of MHC genotype in wild primates: Analysis of wild assamese macaque MHC-DRB from fecal samples

Authors

  • Nadine Müller,

    Corresponding author
    1. Social Evolution in Primates Group, Courant Research Center Evolution of Social Behavior, Georg-August University Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
    • Correspondence to: Nadine Müller, Courant Research Center Evolution of Social Behavior, Social Evolution in Primates Group, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Kellnerweg 6, 37077 Göttingen, Germany. E-mail: nadine.mueller@zentr.uni-goettingen.de

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  • Julia Ostner,

    1. Social Evolution in Primates Group, Courant Research Center Evolution of Social Behavior, Georg-August University Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
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  • Oliver Schülke,

    1. Courant Research Center Evolution of Social Behavior, Georg-August University Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
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  • Lutz Walter

    1. Primate Genetics Laboratory, German Primate Center, Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung, Göttingen, Germany
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Abstract

The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) plays an important role in the immune response and may thus crucially affect an individual's fitness, relevant also for studies on evolutionary ecology and wildlife conservation. Detailed knowledge on the genomic organization, polymorphism and diversity of the MHC has a narrow taxonomic focus though and among macaques is only available for rhesus and long-tailed macaques—the species most commonly kept for biomedical research. The lack of data on wild populations is largely due to the difficulty of obtaining blood or tissue samples necessary for genotyping approaches. Here, we aimed at analyzing MHC-DRB from non-invasively collected fecal samples in wild Assamese macaques (Macaca assamensis), utilizing the MHC-DRB-STR (D6S2878) microsatellite marker. Due to the fecal DNA source incomplete genotypes occurred, which may be improved in the future by method refinement. We detected 28 distinct DRB-STR lengths in 43 individuals with individual genotypes containing 1–9 MHC-DRB-STRs and defined four haplotypes segregating between families in Mendelian fashion. Our results indicate that variability and diversity of MHC-DRB in Assamese macaques is comparable to that of other macaque species and importantly, that fecal samples can be used for non-invasive analysis of MHC genes after refinement of the applied methods, opening a number of opportunities for MHC research on natural populations. Am. J. Primatol. 9999:1–9, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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