Lack of diversity at innate immunity Toll-like receptor genes in the Critically Endangered White winged Flufftail (Sarothrura ayresi)

Desire Lee Dalton, Elaine Vermaak, Hanneline A. Smit-Robinson, Antoinette Kotze

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Abstract

The White-winged Flufftail (Sarothrura ayresi) population is listed as globally Critically Endangered.
White-winged Flufftails are only known to occur, with any regularity, in the high-altitude wetlands of
South Africa and Ethiopia. Threats to the species include the limited number of suitable breeding sites
in Ethiopia and severe habitat degradation and loss both in Ethiopia and South Africa. Toll-like receptors
(TLRs) are increasingly being studied in a variety of taxa as a broader approach to determine functional
genetic diversity. In this study, we confirm low genetic diversity in the innate immune regions of the
White-winged Flufftail similar to that observed in other bird species that have undergone population
bottlenecks. Low TLR diversity in White-winged Flufftail indicates that this species is more likely to be
threatened by changes to the environment that would potentially expose the species to new diseases.
Thus, conservation efforts should be directed towards maintaining pristine habitat for White-winged
Flufftail in its current distribution range. To date, no studies on immunogenetic variation in Whitewinged Flufftail have been conducted and to our knowledge, this is the first study of TLR genetic
diversity in a critically endangered species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalNature Scientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2016

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