Immunitet i en föränderlig värld

Tidsperiod: 2020-07-01 till 2023-06-30

Projektledare: Naomi Keehnen

Finansiär: Vetenskapsrådet

Bidragstyp: Bidrag för anställning eller stipendier

Budget: 3 150 000 SEK

Pathogens and parasites exert the strongest selection pressures on earth, shaping the evolution of an effective and efficient immune system. However, the geographic distribution of pathogens is hypothesized to change as a result of climate change. This is particularly challenging for species that migrate after their breeding season, these face an additional layer of variation in habitats and hence exposure to pathogens. These animals can become vectors, transporting and potentially transferring these novel pathogens to conspecifics and other species. Despite the potential threat of migratory birds acting as vectors for pathogens, and their implied influence on the continued evolution of migration, few studies have investigated how seasonal migration influences the evolution of the host immune repertoire. In this project, I propose to use the European blackcap as a study system to investigate how seasonal migration influences the evolution of the host immune repertoire in an integrated framework. The blackcap is a perfect ecological model, as this songbird encompasses the entire spread of phenotypic variability on migratory behaviour within one single species. I will characterize the immune system genes in this species, investigate their selection dynamics across different populations, identify the malaria strains present, and use a comparative genomic approach to identify the evolutionary capability of animals to adapt to the immunological challenges of a changing world.