Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bats: A Good Immune System Ensures Success in Reproduction

ScienceDaily (May 16, 2012) — 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.


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