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Prenatal and postnatal parental effects on immunity and growth in ‘lactating’ pigeons

Authors

  • Lisa Jacquin,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratoire Ecologie et Evolution, UMR7625 UPMC CNRS ENS, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 7 quai Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris, France
    2. Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines UVSQ, 55 avenue de Paris, 78035 Versailles, France
      Correspondence author. Laboratoire Ecologie et Evolution, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, UMR 7625, Bât. A, 7ème étage, case 237, 7 quai Saint-Bernard 75252, Paris, France. E-mail: ljacquin@snv.jussieu.fr
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  • Lydie Blottière,

    1. Laboratoire Ecologie et Evolution, UMR7625 UPMC CNRS ENS, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 7 quai Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris, France
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  • Claudy Haussy,

    1. Laboratoire Ecologie et Evolution, UMR7625 UPMC CNRS ENS, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 7 quai Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris, France
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  • Samuel Perret,

    1. Centre de Recherche en Ecologie Expérimentale et Prédictive CEREEP-Ecotron Ile-de-France, UMS3194 CNRS ENS, 78 rue du château, 77140 Saint-Pierre-lès-Nemours, France
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  • Julien Gasparini

    1. Laboratoire Ecologie et Evolution, UMR7625 UPMC CNRS ENS, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 7 quai Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris, France
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Correspondence author. Laboratoire Ecologie et Evolution, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, UMR 7625, Bât. A, 7ème étage, case 237, 7 quai Saint-Bernard 75252, Paris, France. E-mail: ljacquin@snv.jussieu.fr

Summary

1. Parental effects can have profound consequences on offspring phenotype. Still, little is known about the relative influence of prenatal versus postnatal parental effects of parasite exposure of parents on offspring traits.

2. In this study, we investigated the respective role of a prenatal and a postnatal immune challenge of parent feral pigeons (Columba livia) on offspring humoral immunity, growth and survival. We used a cross-fostering design and antigen injections in biological and foster parents. Feral pigeons are particularly suitable for studying the effects of parental immune challenges because they can affect the phenotype of their young through the transmission of prenatal antibodies in the egg and postnatal antibodies in the ‘crop milk’, a substance produced in the crop of both parents.

3. Results show that a prenatal immune challenge of biological parents with keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH) antigen decreased the humoral response against KLH of nestlings injected at 14 days of age. In contrast, a postnatal immune challenge of foster parents with KLH enhanced the humoral response of 1-year-old juveniles exposed to a second KLH injection, but only when these juveniles had received their first injection at 3 days of age.

4. No effect on nestling and juvenile response to another antigen (NDV) was observed, indicating that the changes in humoral responses were specific to the KLH injected in parents. In addition to this, prenatal and postnatal parental immune challenges had an interaction effect on fledging body mass, but no effect on juvenile survival.

5. This study shows that pre- and postnatal exposure to antigens in parents has contrasted effects on offspring humoral response and growth. Moreover, it shows that the timing of an early exposure to antigens in nestlings has important effects on their specific humoral response.

6. This study thus suggests that pre- and postnatal parental effects have distinct roles in shaping the phenotype of the offspring on different time scales and calls for further investigations on the potential adaptive role of combined parental effects. Moreover, it suggests that pigeon milk has positive effects on offspring humoral immunity and thus could potentially have a similar immune role as mammalian milk.

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