Undergraduate theses

Shahi Haque

Immune genetics (MHC) of birds using a next generation sequencing approach, Evolutionary ecology and genetics in Greater Flamingos

The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) plays a vital role in answering the genetic variations and fitness differences among wild populations. Their main function is to encode cell surface glycoproteins that bind antigens derived from pathogens and present them to T- lymphocyte for appropriate immune response. They are divided into MHC class I and MHC class II. Here my interest is on MHC class II specifically which is involved in monitoring the extracellular environment by presenting peptides mainly derived from parasites to the T-cells. For my master thesis I combine a long term life history dataset with next generation sequencing to investigate MHC-linked juvenile survival and dispersal for the Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus), which are long distance migrating and dispersing waterbirds.

 

Alexander Heni

Genetic diversity of Toll-like receptor (TLR4, TLR7) genes and their association to health in a neotropical rodent in landscapes differing in anthropogenic disturbance

Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are part of the innate immune system. They recognize conserved parts from pathogens and trigger signal cascades leading to inflammation and activation of the adaptive immune system. During the last years TLRs have been recognized as adaptive markers and studies examining TLR diversity in wildlife species emerged. However only few publications addressed the question whether and how genetic diversity at TLR loci is associated with pathogen load and health status of wild animal populations.
For my master thesis, I investigate the genetic diversity of two TLRs (TLR4 and TLR7) in populations of Tome´s Spiny Rat (Proechimys semispinosus) from Panama. The spiny rats were captured in three landscape types that differ in degree of anthropogenic disturbance. This approach allows me to test whether TLR diversity is affected by habitat disturbance and if changes in diversity affect health status of individuals by looking at viral and helminthic load.