MHC gene configuration variation in geographically disparate populations of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus)

L. Bowen, B. M. Aldridge, R. Delong, S. Melin, C. Godinez, A. Zavala, F. Gulland, L. Lowenstine, J. L. Stott, M. L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II DRB genotypes were examined in two geographically isolated populations of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) (Gulf of California and California coastal Pacific Ocean). Genomic DNA from 227 California sea lions was examined using eight sequence-specific primer (SSP) pairs flanking the putative peptide-binding site. A total of 40 different Zaca-DRB genotype configurations were identified among the 227 individuals. Using SSP-PCR, significant differences were found between coastal California and Gulf of California Zalophus populations in numbers of DRB sequences per individual and configuration of sequences within individuals. Additionally, unique local patterns of MHC diversity were identified among the Midriff Island animals. These population differences are consistent with either ecologically distinct patterns of selection pressures and/or geographical isolation. The consequences of these partitioned MHC configurations at the population level are as yet unknown; however, the worldwide increase in emerging marine diseases lends urgency to their examination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-533
Number of pages5
JournalMolecular ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • California sea lion
  • Class II MHC
  • DRB
  • Gulf of California
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Pathogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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