Faulks LK, Östman Ö
J. Fish Biol. 88 (4) 1564-1583 [2016-04-00; online 2016-03-05]
This study assessed the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and neutral genetic variation and structure in two percid species, perch Perca fluviatilis and zander Sander lucioperca, in a unique brackish ecosystem, the Baltic Sea. In addition, to assess the importance of MHC diversity to disease susceptibility in these populations, comparisons were made to an introduced, disease susceptible, P. fluviatilis population in Australia. Eighty-three MHC class II B exon 2 variants were amplified: 71 variants from 92 P. fluviatilis samples, and 12 variants from 82 S. lucioperca samples. Microsatellite and MHC data revealed strong spatial genetic structure in S. lucioperca, but not P. fluviatilis, across the Baltic Sea. Both microsatellite and MHC data showed higher levels of genetic diversity in P. fluviatilis from the Baltic Sea compared to Australia, which may have facilitated the spread of an endemic virus, EHNV in the Australian population. The relatively high levels of genetic variation in the Baltic Sea populations, together with spatial genetic structure, however, suggest that there currently seems to be little risk of disease epidemics in this system. To ensure this remains the case in the face of ongoing environmental changes, fisheries and habitat disturbance, the conservation of local-scale genetic variation is recommended.