Selection for class II Mhc heterozygosity by parasites in subterranean mole rats

E. Nevo, A. Beiles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mhc organization and polymorphism have previously been studied26 in the four chromosomal species of the Spalax ehrenbergi superspecies in Israel, serologically, and at the DNA, RFLP and sequence levels of class I and class II genes. Here we demonstrate that the observed heterozygosity of Mhc class II genes Pα1 with 11 alleles, and Qβ, with at least 14 alleles, is positively and significantly correlated with infectivities of ectoparasites (gamasid mites)17 and endoparasites (helminths)18. Mhc heterozygosity is highest in the most infected area, which is in the most humid-warm region of the superspecies range, or where two zoogeographic regions overlap. We conclude that the evolutionary forces responsible for the Mhc class II two-gene polymorphisms include selection for increased heterozygosity as a defense strategy against ecto- and endoparasite infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-515
Number of pages4
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1992


  • Mhc
  • Spalax ehrenbergi
  • heterozygosity
  • natural selection
  • parasites
  • subterranean mole rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Selection for class II Mhc heterozygosity by parasites in subterranean mole rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this