DFG FOR 1078 Natural Selection in Structured Populations

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P4 - The influence of the B4galnt2 gene and host population structure on the intestinal microbiota in house mice

Project leader

John Baines
Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel,
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön

The microbial communities inhabiting the mammalian gastrointestinal tract play an important role in diverse aspects of host biology. However, little is known regarding the forces shaping variation in these communities and its influence on host fitness. Because blood group-related glycosyltransferases are frequent targets of natural selection and influence the attachment and colonization of both pathogenic and commensal bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, they represent good candidates for describing the evolutionary forces shaping host-microbiota interactions. The blood group-related glycosyltransferase gene B4galnt2 is subject to strong selective forces in natural house mouse populations, which contain a common allelic variant that specifically turns off gene expression in the gastrointestinal tract and greatly varies in frequency between local populations. The aims of this project are to

  1. isolate and characterize B4galnt2 genotype-adapted members of intestinal communities at the population genomic level,
  2. characterize pathogen-driven selection in natural populations and
  3. analyze the diversity of intestinal bacterial communities with respect to the population structure of their mouse host.