MHC variation in the endangered Gila topminnow

Philip W. Hedrick, Karen M. Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Sequence variation at a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene, assumed to be involved in parasite and pathogen resistance, was examined in the endangered Gila topminnow (Poeciliopis o. occidentalis), from the four watersheds where they remain in the United States. This is the first estimate of variation in MHC genes in natural populations of an endangered species. The population that has experienced the most bottlenecks historically was monomorphic for MHC variation. Another population, which earlier had been found to be the only population polymorphic for allozymes, had five MHC alleles, four different from those found in the other populations. Overall, nine different alleles were found. The four populations were highly divergent at MHC with four of the six population pairs not sharing any alleles. However, the magnitude of differentiation between populations on the amino-acid level varied fivefold for the populations that shared no alleles. Using single-stranded conformational polymorphism (SSCP), these alleles segregated consistently with Mendelian expectations in families. Because of the high genetic differentiation between these populations for a potentially adaptive gene, we recommend that the four watersheds be examined further for separate conservation and management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-199
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998


  • Bottleneck
  • Conservation
  • Evolutionarily significant unit
  • Parasite resistance
  • Polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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