Most birds have more MHC gene copies than humans, and passerines (small song birds) in particular have a large number of duplicated MHC genes. Many passerines are migratory and encounter different pathogens at their breeding and wintering sites, and perhaps an increased selection pressure from pathogens explain the maintenance of large numbers of MHC genes in these birds.
We are interested in how avian MHC genes have evolved and what role the phylogeny and selection from pathogens, respectively, have for the number of MHC gene copies in sedentary and migratory birds.
We also characterize full-length avian MHC genes and investigate to what extent different types of MHC genes are expressed. Finally, we study binding properties of avian MHC class I molecules.