Evolution of diversity at the major histocompatibility complex

Wayne K. Potts, Edward K. Wakeland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Recent evidence from both population data and DNA sequence analyses indicates that the unprecedented genetic diversity found at MHC loci is selectively maintained in contemporary natural populations, although the strength and nature of this selection are currently unclear. Due to the critical role played by MHC molecules in immune recognition, it is generally assumed that some form of parasite-driven selection is operating. However, the general failure to implicate MHC in the susceptibility to specific infectious diseases has been troubling, and may indicate that selection is too weak to detect directly. Alternatively, strong selection can be reconciled by a variety of factors including the amplification of minor (disease-based) vigor differences into large fitness differences by intraspecific competition, or non-disease-based selection such as mating preferences and selective abortion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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