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Title: Mating plasticity within a natural population of sea trout (Salmo trutta) and the effects of the Major Histocompatibility Complex on mate choice and survival
Author: Miller, Roseanne
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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The genes of the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) represent the most diverse genomic region in vertebrates, and has become a paradigm both for adaptively important genetic variation and how balancing selection can act to retain diversity in the face of gene flow. Within this thesis I examined how the natural mating system of a population of sea trout (Salmo trutta) located in a stream in N E Scotland, affected levels of genetic diversity at both neutral microsatellite loci and at the MHC. High levels of multiple mating were observed for both males and females whereby females mated with as many as nine males during one spawning event and often spawned at multiple nests and males mated with as many as nine females. Repeat spawning events including the same mate pairs was common, perhaps indicating mate choice. Indeed majority males (those which sired the highest number of offspring within a nest) sired more MHC divergent offspring than expected under random mating i.e. individual offspring's maternally and paternally inherited MHC sequences contained a higher number of polymorphic sites than expected under random mating. This may indicate a mating strategy whereby disassortative MHC mate choice increases offspring diversity. Although, MHC played a significant role in mate selection¸ no selective effect of MHC diversity or genotype was found to influence offspring survival in c.8 month old parr. However, any affect may be masked by the strong family group structure within the offspring population with clustering of highly related individuals. Selective mating resulting in high individual diversity and high diversity across the offspring cohort may act as a bet hedging mechanism maximising the chances that at least some offspring will be genetically equipped to deal with selective pressures in the environment. The findings of this thesis highlight the complexity of individual mating systems and the implications that mating practices such as multiple mating and mate choice can have on offspring genetic diversity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Brown trout ; Histocompatability ; Mate selection