• 454 sequencing;
  • AFLP ;
  • MHC class IIB;
  • pathogens;
  • Phoxinus phoxinus ;
  • selection


Host–pathogen interactions are a major evolutionary force promoting local adaptation. Genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) represent unique candidates to investigate evolutionary processes driving local adaptation to parasite communities. The present study aimed at identifying the relative roles of neutral and adaptive processes driving the evolution of MHC class IIB (MHCIIB) genes in natural populations of European minnows (Phoxinus phoxinus). To this end, we isolated and genotyped exon 2 of two MHCIIB gene duplicates (DAB1 and DAB3) and 1′665 amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers in nine populations, and characterized local bacterial communities by 16S rDNA barcoding using 454 amplicon sequencing. Both MHCIIB loci exhibited signs of historical balancing selection. Whereas genetic differentiation exceeded that of neutral markers at both loci, the populations' genetic diversities were positively correlated with local pathogen diversities only at DAB3. Overall, our results suggest pathogen-mediated local adaptation in European minnows at both MHCIIB loci. While at DAB1 selection appears to favor different alleles among populations, this is only partially the case in DAB3, which appears to be locally adapted to pathogen communities in terms of genetic diversity. These results provide new insights into the importance of host–pathogen interactions in driving local adaptation in the European minnow, and highlight that the importance of adaptive processes driving MHCIIB gene evolution may differ among duplicates within species, presumably as a consequence of alternative selective regimes or different genomic context.