Immunocompetence and heterozygosity in the mussel Mytilus edulis
Carissan-Lloyd, F.M.M. and Pipe, R.K. and Beaumont, A.R. (2004) Immunocompetence and heterozygosity in the mussel Mytilus edulis. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 84 (2). pp. 377-382. ISSN 0025-3154
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Multiple locus allozyme heterozygosity has been shown to be weakly, but significantly correlated with certain fitness parameters in bivalves. Immune function of individual Mytilus edulis from the Menai Strait, Wales, UK was assessed monthly over one year (1997–1998) by measuring total blood cell (haemocyte) counts, differential haemocyte counts (% basophils and eosinophils), phagocytic capability (by zymozan uptake) and intracellular superoxide generation. Sampled mussels were also scored at 9 allozyme loci. Mussels were then grouped into multiple locus heterozygosity (MLH) classes and plotted separately against the different measures of immunocompetence. No significant association was present between MLH and total haemocyte count, phagocytic capability or intracellular superoxide generation. However, there was a significant association between MLH and the character (basophilic or eosinophilic) of circulating haemocytes (r2=0·057, P=0·002). Highly heterozygous individuals tended to have significantly more eosinophilic haemocytes circulating in the blood than highly homozygous individuals. Eosinophilic haemocytes are known to have a high capacity for phagocytosis of invading organisms and these results may therefore be interpreted as increased health (=fitness) in more highly heterozygous individuals.
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