Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Parallel adaptation of rabbit populations to myxoma virus.

Abstract

In the 1950s the myxoma virus was released into European rabbit populations in Australia and Europe, decimating populations and resulting in the rapid evolution of resistance. We investigated the genetic basis of resistance by comparing the exomes of rabbits collected before and after the pandemic. We found a strong pattern of parallel evolution, with selection on standing genetic variation favoring the same alleles in Australia, France, and the United Kingdom. Many of these changes occurred in immunity-related genes, supporting a polygenic basis of resistance. We experimentally validated the role of several genes in viral replication and showed that selection acting on an interferon protein has increased the protein's antiviral effect.