Figure 2 from Genetic colour polymorphism is associated with avian malarial infections
2016-12-10T12:56:21Z (GMT) by
Individual genetic diversity is predicted to influence host–parasite interactions. Together with the genes directly associated with immune responses, variation in genes regulating vertebrate melanin-based pigmentation may play an important role in these interactions, mainly through the pleiotropic effects that affect colour-specific physiology, behaviour and immunity. Here, we test the hypothesis that the prevalence of avian malarial parasites differs between phenotypes in a raptor species in which the genetic basis of colour polymorphism and its pleiotropic effects over immune functions are known. We found that dark morphs had a higher prevalence of <i>Plasmodium</i> parasites than pale ones but detected no such association for <i>Haemoproteus</i>. This pattern may be associated with unequal exposure to vectors or, as suggested by our circumstantial evidence, to a differential ability to mount an immune response against blood parasites.