Journal Club 6 Sept 2016: Specific alleles at immune genes, rather than genome-wide heterozygosity, are related to immunity and survival in the critically endangered Attwater’s prairie-chicken
A recent paper in Molecular Ecology (Bateson et al. 2016) evaluates the association between genome-wide heterozygosity (GWH; i.e. inbreeding), immune gene variation and survival in prairie-chicken. They found no association between GWH and any survival related trait, but in contrast some immune gene alleles associate to survival. The question is whether this means that we should use e.g. immune genes as markers in conservation biological decisions? I do not agree with this conclusion, because it would mean avoiding some individuals, the ones not carrying these alleles, in breeding programs, rather than trying to keep a large and genome-wide pool of variation into the future generation. By the way, one may ask why GWH did not correlate with survivial - could it be that the double digest RAD approach created unreliable genotypes, or could it be that the individuals were similarly inbred?