The evolution and maintenance of polymorphism in the major histocompatibility complex Conference Paper uri icon


  • Lambs with the G2 allele at the ovine major histocompatibility complex (mhc) class II locus DRB1 has previously been shown to have lower faecal nematode egg counts than lambs with the I allele at this locus. This association has been confirmed in separate cohorts from the same farm. Other alleles within the mhc have also shown associations with nematode resistance in other breeds of sheep. Therefore, variation in the mhc is responsible for part of the observed genetic variation in resistance to nematode infection. In addition to the specific effect of particular alleles, heterozygotes are also more resistant than homozygotes. This heterozygote advantage is capable of maintaining the high levels of polymorphism observed within the mhc.

publication date

  • October 2005