The red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica) is an economically important game bird species endemic to the upland heather moors of the British Isles, where its conservation status is "amber" due to long-term declines in breeding populations. One major driver of grouse population ecology is chronic infection by the highly prevalent, gastrointestinal parasitic nematode Trichostrongylus tenuis. Here, we outline the identification and characterisation of 17 candidate genes for the physiological response of red grouse to parasite infection, developed de novo from functional and genetic analysis of grouse transcriptomic and genomic resources. These genes capture broad physiological functions, including immune system processes, xenobiotics detoxification, oxidative balance, metabolism and cell cycle regulation. All genes were polymorphic at the landscape scale in north-east Scotland, indicating great utility for characterising the causes and consequences of spatio-temporal genetic variation in relation to parasite-mediated eco-evolutionary processes in red grouse populations.
This study was funded by a BBSRC studentship (MA Wenzel) and NERC Grants NE/H00775X/1 and NE/D000602/1 (SB Piertney). We are grateful to Jacob Hoglund for providing willow grouse samples, Mario Roder, Keliya Bai, Marianne James, Matt Oliver, Gill Murray-Dickson, Francois Mougeot and Jesus Martınez-Padilla for help with fieldwork, and all grouse estate factors, owners and keepers, most particularly Alistair Mitchell, Shaila Rao, Christopher Murphy, Richard Cooke and Fred Taylor,
for providing access to estate game larders.
- red grouse
- candidate genes
- adaptive genetic diversity
- population genomics