Toll-like receptor variation in the bottlenecked population of the endangered Seychelles warbler

Gilroy, DL ORCID:, van Oosterhout, C, Komdeur, J and Richardson, DS 2017, 'Toll-like receptor variation in the bottlenecked population of the endangered Seychelles warbler' , Animal Conservation, 20 (3) , pp. 235-250.

PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (293kB) | Preview


In small populations, drift results in a loss of genetic variation, which reduces adaptive evolutionary potential. Furthermore, the probability of consanguineous mating increases which may result in inbreeding depression. Under certain circumstances, balancing selection can counteract drift and maintain variation at key loci. Identifying such loci is important from a conservation perspective and may provide insight into how different evolutionary forces interact in small populations. Toll-like receptor (TLR) genes play a pivotal role in vertebrate innate immune defence by recognizing invading pathogens. We characterize TLR variation in the Seychelles warbler (SW) Acrocephalus sechellensis, an endangered passerine that recently suffered a population bottleneck. Five of seven TLR loci were polymorphic, with one locus (TLR15) containing four functional variants and showing an excess of heterozygotes. Haplotype-level tests failed to detect selection at these loci, but site-specific tests detected signatures of positive selection within TLR3 and TLR15. After characterizing variation (excluding TLR15) in 5–6 other Acrocephalus species, we found that TLR variation was positively correlated with population size across species and followed the pattern observed at neutral microsatellite loci. The depauperate TLR variation observed suggests that even at important immunity-related loci, balancing selection may only attenuate the overriding effects of drift. However, in the SW, TLR15 appears to be an outlier and warrants further investigation. The low levels of TLR variation may be disadvantageous for the long-term viability of the SW and conservation measures that maximize the retention of the variation should be considered.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Animal Conservation
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1367-9430
Related URLs:
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), University of East Anglia, University of Groningen, Earth and Life Systems Alliance (ELSA)
Depositing User: DL Hinchcliffe
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2021 07:07
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 17:24

Actions (login required)

Edit record (repository staff only) Edit record (repository staff only)


Downloads per month over past year