Structure and polymorphism of the major histocompatibility complex class II region in the Japanese Crested Ibis, Nipponia nippon.
ABSTRACT: The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is a highly polymorphic genomic region that plays a central role in the immune system. Despite its functional consistency, the genomic structure of the MHC differs substantially among organisms. In birds, the MHC-B structures of Galliformes, including chickens, have been well characterized, but information about other avian MHCs remains sparse. The Japanese Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon, Pelecaniformes) is an internationally conserved, critically threatened species. The current Japanese population of N. nippon originates from only five founders; thus, understanding the genetic diversity among these founders is critical for effective population management. Because of its high polymorphism and importance for disease resistance and other functions, the MHC has been an important focus in the conservation of endangered species. Here, we report the structure and polymorphism of the Japanese Crested Ibis MHC class II region. Screening of genomic libraries allowed the construction of three contigs representing different haplotypes of MHC class II regions. Characterization of genomic clones revealed that the MHC class II genomic structure of N. nippon was largely different from that of chicken. A pair of MHC-IIA and -IIB genes was arranged head-to-head between the COL11A2 and BRD2 genes. Gene order in N. nippon was more similar to that in humans than to that in chicken. The three haplotypes contained one to three copies of MHC-IIA/IIB gene pairs. Genotyping of the MHC class II region detected only three haplotypes among the five founders, suggesting that the genetic diversity of the current Japanese Crested Ibis population is extremely low. The structure of the MHC class II region presented here provides valuable insight for future studies on the evolution of the avian MHC and for conservation of the Japanese Crested Ibis.
Project description:The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is highly polymorphic and plays a central role in the vertebrate immune system. Despite its functional consistency, the MHC genomic structure differs substantially among organisms. In birds, the MHCs of Galliformes and the Japanese crested ibis (Pelecaniformes) are well-characterized, but information about other avian MHCs remains scarce. The Oriental stork (Ciconia boyciana, order Ciconiiformes) is a large endangered migrant. The current Japanese population of this bird originates from a few founders; thus, understanding the genetic diversity among them is critical for effective population management. We report the structure and polymorphisms in C. boyciana MHC. One contig (approximately 128?kb) was assembled by screening of lambda phage genomic library and its complete sequence was determined, revealing a gene order of COL11A2, two copies of MHC-IIA/IIB pairs, BRD2, DMA/B1/B2, MHC-I, TAP1/2, and two copies each of pseudo MHC-I and TNXB. This structure was highly similar to that of the Japanese crested ibis, but largely different from that of Galliformes, at both the terminal regions. Genotyping of the MHC-II region detected 10 haplotypes among the six founders. These results provide valuable insights for future studies on the evolution of the avian MHCs and for conservation of C. boyciana.
Project description:The Japanese crested ibis is an internationally conserved, critically threatened bird. Captive-breeding programs have been established to conserve this species in Japan. Since the current Japanese population of crested ibis originates only from 5 founders donated by the Chinese government, understanding the genetic diversity between them is critical for an effective population management. To discover genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and short tandem repeats (STRs) while obtaining genotype data of these polymorphic markers in each founder, reduced representation libraries were independently prepared from each of the founder genomes and sequenced on an Illumina HiSeq2000. This yielded 316 million 101-bp reads. Consensus sequences were created by clustering sequence reads, and then sequence reads from each founder were mapped to the consensus sequences, resulting in the detection of 52,512 putative SNPs and 162 putative STRs. The numbers of haplotypes and STR alleles and the investigation of genetic similarities suggested that the total genetic diversity between the founders was lower, although we could not identify a pair with closely related genome sequences. This study provided important insight into protocols for genetic management of the captive breeding population of Japanese crested ibis in Japan and towards the national project for reintroduction of captive-bred individuals into the wild. We proposed a simple, efficient, and cost-effective approach for simultaneous detection of genome-wide polymorphic markers and their genotypes for species currently lacking a reference genome sequence.
Project description:The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) plays an important role in immune response. Avian MHCs are not well characterized, only reporting highly compact Galliformes MHCs and extensively fragmented zebra finch MHC. We report the first genomic structure of an endangered Pelecaniformes (crested ibis) MHC containing 54 genes in three regions spanning ~500 kb. In contrast to the loose BG (26 loci within 265 kb) and Class I (11 within 150) genomic structures, the Core Region is condensed (17 within 85). Furthermore, this Region exhibits a COL11A2 gene, followed by four tandem MHC class II αβ dyads retaining two suites of anciently duplicated "αβ" lineages. Thus, the crested ibis MHC structure is entirely different from the known avian MHC architectures but similar to that of mammalian MHCs, suggesting that the fundamental structure of ancestral avian class II MHCs should be "COL11A2-IIαβ1-IIαβ2." The gene structures, residue characteristics, and expression levels of the five class I genes reveal inter-locus functional divergence. However, phylogenetic analysis indicates that these five genes generate a well-supported intra-species clade, showing evidence for recent duplications. Our analyses suggest dramatic structural variation among avian MHC lineages, help elucidate avian MHC evolution, and provide a foundation for future conservation studies.
Project description:Investigating adaptive potential and understanding the relative roles of selection and genetic drift in populations of endangered species are essential in conservation. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes characterized by spectacular polymorphism and fitness association have become valuable adaptive markers. Herein we investigate the variation of all MHC class I and II genes across seven populations of an endangered bird, the crested ibis, of which all current individuals are offspring of only two pairs. We inferred seven multilocus haplotypes from linked alleles in the Core Region and revealed structural variation of the class II region that probably evolved through unequal crossing over. Based on the low polymorphism, structural variation, strong linkage, and extensive shared alleles, we applied the MHC haplotypes in population analysis. The genetic variation and population structure at MHC haplotypes are generally concordant with those expected from microsatellites, underlining the predominant role of genetic drift in shaping MHC variation in the bottlenecked populations. Nonetheless, some populations showed elevated differentiation at MHC, probably due to limited gene flow. The seven populations were significantly differentiated into three groups and some groups exhibited genetic monomorphism, which can be attributed to founder effects. We therefore propose various strategies for future conservation and management.
Project description:Although vertebrates have been reported to gain higher reproductive outputs by choosing mates, few studies have been conducted on threatened species. However, species recovery should benefit if natural mate choice could improve reproductive output (i.e. pair performance related to offspring number, such as increased clutch size, numbers of fertilized egg and fledglings). We assessed the evidence for major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-based mate preference in the endangered crested ibis (Nipponia nippon) and quantified the impacts of such choice on reproductive output. We tested the hypothesis that crested ibis advertise "good genes" through external traits, by testing whether nuptial plumage characteristics and body morphology mediate mate choice for underlying genetic MHC variation. We found differences between males and females in preferred MHC genotypes, external traits used in mate choice and contributions to reproductive outputs. Females preferred MHC-heterozygous males, which had darker [i.e. lower total reflectance and ultraviolet (UV) reflectance] nuptial plumage. Males preferred females lacking the DAB*d allele at the MHC class II DAB locus, which had higher average body mass. DAB*d-free females yielded heavier eggs and more fledglings, while MHC-heterozygous males contributed to more fertilized eggs and fledglings. Fledging rate was highest when both parents had the preferred MHC genotypes (i.e. MHC-heterozygous father and DAB*d-free mother). Comparisons showed that free-mating wild and semi-natural pairs yielded more fertilized eggs and more fledglings, with a higher fledging rate, than captive pairs matched artificially based on pedigree. Conservation programmes seldom apply modern research results to population management, which could hinder recovery of threatened species. Our results show that mate choice can play an important role in improving reproductive output, with an example in which an endangered bird selects mates using UV visual capability. Despite the undoubted importance of pedigree-based matching of mates in conservation programmes, we show that free mating can be a better alternative strategy.
Project description:Traditional agriculture benefits a rich diversity of plants and animals. The winter-flooded rice fields in the Qinling Mountains, China, are the last refuge for the endangered Asian crested ibis (Nipponia nippon), and intensive efforts have been made to protect this anthropogenic habitat. Analyses of multi-temporal satellite data indicate that winter-flooded rice fields have been continuously reduced across the current range of crested ibis during the past two decades. The rate of loss of these fields in the core-protected areas has unexpectedly increased to a higher level than that in non-protected areas in the past decade. The best fit (R (2) = 0.87) numerical response model of the crested ibis population shows that a reduction of winter-flooded rice fields decreases population growth and predicts that the population growth will be constrained by the decline of traditional winter-flooded rice fields in the coming decades. Our findings suggest that the decline of traditional rice farming is likely to continue to pose a threat to the long-term survival and recovery of the crested ibis population in China.
Project description:The Crested Ibis Nipponia nippon was once thought to be extinct in the wild until seven birds were discovered in a remote mountain village in China in 1981. Studies suggested that winter-flooded rice fields play an essential role in nest site selection by the Crested Ibis and hence in their survival. Considerable efforts were therefore made to conserve the winter-flooded rice fields, but these have caused conflicts between the agricultural and conservation communities. The population and geographical range of the wild Crested Ibis has expanded greatly since 1981, but there is no spatial information on the winter-flooded rice fields, nor on the current association of nest sites and winter-flooded rice fields. We mapped winter-flooded rice fields across the entire current range of Crested Ibis using innovative remote sensing and geographical information systems (GIS) techniques. The spatial relationships between the nest site clusters and winter-flooded rice fields were quantified using Ward's hierarchical clustering method and Ripley's K-function. We show that both have significantly clumped distribution patterns and that they are positively associated. However, the dependence of Crested Ibis on the winter-flooded rice fields varied significantly among the nest site clusters and has decreased over the years, indicating the absence of winter-flooded rice fields is not constraining their recovery and population expansion. We therefore recommend that efforts should be made to protect the existing winter-flooded rice fields and to restore the functionality of natural and semi-natural wetlands, to encourage both in-situ conservation and the re-introduction of the Crested Ibis. In addition, we recommend that caution should be exercised when interpreting the habitat requirements of species with a narrow distribution, particularly when that interpretation is based only on their current habitat.
Project description:Whole-genome shotgun (WGS) sequencing has become a routine method in genome research over the past decade. However, the assembly of highly polymorphic regions in WGS projects remains a challenge, especially for large genomes. Employing BAC library constructing, PCR screening and Sanger sequencing, traditional strategy is laborious and expensive, which hampers research on polymorphic genomic regions. As one of the most highly polymorphic regions, the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) plays a central role in the adaptive immunity of all jawed vertebrates. In this study, we introduced an efficient procedure based on recombination screening and short-reads assembly. With this procedure, we constructed a high quality 488-kb region of crested ibis MHC that consists of 3 superscaffolds and contains 50 genes. Our sequence showed comparable quality (97.29% identity) to traditional Sanger assembly, while the workload was reduced almost 7 times. Comparative study revealed distinctive features of crested ibis by exhibiting the COL11A2-BLA-BLB-BRD2 cluster and presenting both ADPRH and odorant receptor (OR) gene in the MHC region. Furthermore, the conservation of the BF-TAP1-TAP2 structure in crested ibis and other vertebrate lineages is interesting in light of the hypothesis that coevolution of functionally related genes in the primordial MHC is responsible for the appearance of the antigen presentation pathways at the birth of the adaptive immune system.
Project description:Defensins play a key role in the innate immunity of various organisms. Detailed genomic studies of the defensin cluster have only been reported in a limited number of birds. Herein, we present the first characterization of defensins in a Pelecaniformes species, the crested ibis (Nipponia nippon), which is one of the most endangered birds in the world. We constructed bacterial artificial chromosome libraries, including a 4D-PCR library and a reverse-4D library, which provide at least 40 equivalents of this rare bird's genome. A cluster including 14 ?-defensin loci within 129?kb was assigned to chromosome 3 by FISH, and one gene duplication of AvBD1 was found. The ibis defensin genes are characterized by multiform gene organization ranging from two to four exons through extensive exon fusion. Splicing signal variations and alternative splice variants were also found. Comparative analysis of four bird species identified one common and multiple species-specific duplications, which might be associated with high GC content. Evolutionary analysis revealed birth-and-death mode and purifying selection for avian defensin evolution, resulting in different defensin gene numbers among bird species and functional conservation within orthologous genes, respectively. Additionally, we propose various directions for further research on genetic conservation in the crested ibis.
Project description:Chlamydia spp. are a group of obligate intracellular pathogens causing a number of diseases in animals and humans. Avian chlamydiosis (AC), caused by Chlamydia psittaci (C. psittaci) as well as new emerging C. avium, C. gallinacea and C. ibidis, have been described in nearly 500 avian species worldwidely. The Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon) is a world endangered avian species with limited population and vulnerable for various infections. To get a better understanding of the prevalence of Chlamydia spp. in the endangered Crested Ibis, faecal samples were collected and analysed. The results confirmed that 20.20% (20/99) of the faecal samples were positive for Chlamydiaceae and were identified as C. ibidis with co-existence of C. psittaci in one of the 20 positive samples. In addition, ompA sequence of C. psittaci obtained in this study was classified into the provisional genotype Matt116, while that of C. ibidis showed high genetic diversity, sharing only 77% identity with C. ibidis reference strain 10-1398/6. We report for the first time the presence of C. ibidis and C. psittaci in the Crested Ibis, which may indicate a potential threat to the endangered birds and should be aware of the future protection practice.