Paternally derived immune priming for offspring in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum

Authors

  • Olivia Roth,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute for Integrative Biology, Experimental Ecology, Universitätsstrasse 16, ETH-Zentrum, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland
    2. Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Hüfferstrasse 1, DE-48149 Münster, Germany
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    • Present address: Leibniz Institut für Meereswissenschaften IFM-GEOMAR, Evolutionary Ecology, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, DE-24105 Kiel, Germany

  • Gerrit Joop,

    1. Institute for Integrative Biology, Experimental Ecology, Universitätsstrasse 16, ETH-Zentrum, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland
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  • Hendrik Eggert,

    1. Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Hüfferstrasse 1, DE-48149 Münster, Germany
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  • Jonas Hilbert,

    1. Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Hüfferstrasse 1, DE-48149 Münster, Germany
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  • Jens Daniel,

    1. Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Hüfferstrasse 1, DE-48149 Münster, Germany
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  • Paul Schmid-Hempel,

    1. Institute for Integrative Biology, Experimental Ecology, Universitätsstrasse 16, ETH-Zentrum, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland
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    • Authors contributed equally

  • Joachim Kurtz

    1. Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Hüfferstrasse 1, DE-48149 Münster, Germany
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    • Authors contributed equally

Errata

This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 79, Issue 3, 722, Article first published online: 22 March 2010

*Correspondence author. E-mail: oroth@ifm-geomar.de

Summary

1. Parasitized females in mammals, fish and birds can enhance the immune defence of their offspring by transferring specific antibodies for the embryo. Likewise, social insect mothers transfer immunity despite the fact that invertebrates lack antibodies.

2. Female trans-generational immune priming is consistent with parental investment theory, because mothers invest more into rearing their offspring than fathers. However, when immune priming is not directly linked to parental care, as is often the case in insects that abandon their eggs after oviposition, both sexes might benefit from protecting their offspring.

3. Using the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, we show that after parental exposure to heat-killed bacteria, trans-generational immune priming occurs through fathers as well as mothers.

4. This novel finding challenges the traditional view that males provide only genes to their offspring in species without paternal care, and raises the possibility of a division of tasks with respect to immune protection between parents.

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