The B blood group system constitutes the major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) in birds. The Mhc is a cluster of genes largely devoted to the processing and presentation of antigen. The Mhc is highly polymorphic in many species and, thus, useful in the evaluation of genetic diversity for fitness traits within populations of a variety of animals. Correlations found between particular Mhc haplotypes and resistance to certain diseases emphasize the importance of understanding the functional significance of diversity of the Mhc, particularly in species threatened with extinction. As part of studies focused on genetic diversity in wild birds, serological techniques were used to define a highly polymorphic alloantigen system in seven families of Florida sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis pratensis). The results of analyses with antisera produced within the crane families and with chicken Mhc antigen-specific reagents revealed a single major alloantigen system that is likely the Mhc of the Florida sandhill crane. Preliminary experiments indicate that these crane alloantisera will provide a means of defining .the Mhc in other species of cranes.
Additional publication details
A complex alloantigen system in Florida sandhill cranes, Grus canadensis pratensis: Evidence for the major histocompatibility (B) system