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No relationship between individual genetic diversity and prevalence of avian malaria in a migratory kestrel

Authors

  • JOAQUÍN ORTEGO,

    1. Grupo de Investigación de la Biodiversidad Genética y Cultural, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos — IREC (CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, E-13005 Ciudad Real, Spain
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  • PEDRO J. CORDERO,

    1. Grupo de Investigación de la Biodiversidad Genética y Cultural, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos — IREC (CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, E-13005 Ciudad Real, Spain
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  • JOSÉ MIGUEL APARICIO,

    1. Grupo de Investigación de la Biodiversidad Genética y Cultural, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos — IREC (CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, E-13005 Ciudad Real, Spain
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  • GUSTAU CALABUIG

    1. Grupo de Investigación de la Biodiversidad Genética y Cultural, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos — IREC (CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, E-13005 Ciudad Real, Spain
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Joaquín Ortego, Fax: +34 926295 451; E-mail: joaquin.ortego@uclm.es

Abstract

Insight into the genetic basis of malaria resistance is crucial for understanding the consequences of this parasite group on animal populations. Here, we analyse the relationship between genotypic variation at 11 highly variable microsatellite loci and prevalence of three different lineages of avian malaria, two Plasmodium (RTSR1, LK6) and one Haemoproteus (LK2), in a wild population of the endangered lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni). Although we used a large sample size (584 typed individuals), we did not find any significant association between the prevalence of the studied parasite lineages and individual genetic diversity. Although our data set is large, the 11 neutral markers typed may have had low power to detect such association, in part because of the low parasite prevalence observed (less than 5% of infected birds). However, the fact that we have detected previous correlations between genetic diversity and other traits (ectoparasitism risk, fecundity) in the study population using the same panel of neutral markers and lower sample sizes suggests that other factors could underlie the absence of such a similar correlation with avian malaria. Differences in the genetics of the studied traits and in their particular basis of inbreeding depression (dominance vs. overdominance) may have led to malaria prevalence, but not other traits, being uncoupled with individual genetic diversity. Also, we cannot discard the possibility that the absence of association was a consequence of a low pathogenic effect of these particular malaria lineages on our lesser kestrel population, and thus we should not expect the evolution of genetic resistance against these parasites.

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