Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bats: A good immune system ensures success in reproduction

Date:
May 16, 2012
Source:
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB)
Summary:
Anyone who is healthy has more enthusiasm for reproduction. The same is true even for bats. Male bats with a good immune system are more successful in being selected by females during mate choice and reproduction than their ailing counterparts.

Lesser Bulldog Bat (Noctilio al-biventris).
Credit: C. Voigt

Anyone who is healthy has more enthusiasm for reproduction. The same is true even for bats. Male bats with a good immune system are more successful in being selected by females during mate choice and reproduction than their ailing counterparts, as recently highlighted by researchers of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in the online scientific journal PLoS ONE.

In male deer and peacocks we know: the more spikes in the antlers and the more eyes on the peacock's tail, the greater the success with females. The "good genes" hypothesis assumes that the attractiveness of males is associated with good genes passed on to offspring.

Now, for one specific version of the good genes hypothesis IZW-scientists found strong support. An IZW-team led by Simone Sommer and Christian Voigt demonstrated for lesser bulldog bats (Noctilio albiventris) that males with a high variability within the immune genes of the "major histocompatibility complex" (MHC), a gene region crucial for the immune defense against pathogens and parasites, reproduce better and hand on their good genes directly to the offspring. The likely reason for the higher reproductive success: Males with good MHC genes have to invest less energy into the defense against pathogens, particularly parasites.

Tropical bats have been recently identified as a major reservoir for many dangerous pathogens, such as SARS, Ebola or Nipa viruses. Yet, quite often tropical bats seem to remain unaffected by these viruses, even though humans and non-bat wildlife species may develop severe symptoms. The IZW researchers therefore asked whether there is anything special about the immune gene constitution of tropical bats, and whether bats have specific evolutionary adaptations to protect themselves against seemingly dangerous pathogens or parasites.

Genes that code for the immune defense are highly variable and therefore individuals can substantially vary in the effectiveness of their immune defense as this depends on which genes they carry. Using the example of the Lesser Bulldog Bat, the researchers showed that the expression of immune genes influenced the degree of parasitic infestation by ticks and bat flies. Males that suffered severely under parasites possessed unfavorable immune genes. They were also less often reproductively successful and therefore did not pass on their "bad genes" to the next generation.

Reproductively active and successful males were parasitized less often and also carried less often the "bad" immune genes. This clearly helped their progeny. "We were amazed to see that the next generation already carried more of the good immune genes than the previous one" says Julia Schad, the first author of the paper. The unfavorable immune genes were less common in the offspring than in the previous generation, helping the offspring to fight off parasites such as ticks and bat flies. The results show that bats may adapt quickly in that already the successor generations substantially benefits from the increased effectiveness of the immunogenetic defense against prevailing parasites and pathogens.

Immune genes also affect the odor profile of animals. Female bulldog bats might use olfactory cues to select males as mates which carry the beneficial immune gene constitution , speculates Simone Sommer. In an on-going project, the team investigates whether the odor profile of male bats is related to the variability of their immune genes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Schad J, Dechmann DKN, Voigt CC, Sommer S. Evidence for the ‘Good Genes’ Model: Association of MHC Class II DRB Alleles with Ectoparasitism and Reproductive State in the Neotropical Lesser Bulldog Bat, Noctilio albiventris. PLoS ONE, 2012 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037101

Cite This Page:

Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). "Bats: A good immune system ensures success in reproduction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120516195451.htm>.
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). (2012, May 16). Bats: A good immune system ensures success in reproduction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120516195451.htm
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). "Bats: A good immune system ensures success in reproduction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120516195451.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins