Recent advances in vertebrate and invertebrate transgenerational immunity in the light of ecology and evolution

We critically summarize the current evidence for Transgenerational immune priming in both invertebrates and vertebrates

Olivia Roth; Anne Beemelmanns; Seth M. Barribeau; Ben M. Sadd


Scholarcy highlights

  • The genotype of an offspring is determined by the merging of maternal and paternal DNA, but the offspring’s phenotype is influenced by a plethora of environmental factors, which provide enormous plasticity
  • Parental effects represent one form of phenotypic plasticity across generations, where inherited environmental effects can be transferred to offspring from mothers and fathers
  • Transgenerational immune priming, where parents enhance offspring immune defense based on their own immunological experience, can be viewed as a case of phenotypic plasticity achieved through parental effects
  • We address the potential mechanisms by which the phenotypic plasticity can be achieved across generational boundaries
  • Based on its use in the field of ecological and evolutionary immunology, we use a broad definition of TGIP that constitutes any transfer of parental immunological experience to offspring, which can include examples where the parental immunological experience takes place when developing offspring cells are already present
  • Recent studies focusing on the impact of environmental stressors on both vertebrates and invertebrates have confirmed that maternal and paternal experience induces epigenetic changes, such as DNA methylation and histone modifications, which might be transferred over the generational boundary
  • It is apparent that Transgenerational immune priming in vertebrates is much more than maternal antibody transfer, and endogenous immune-related gene expression of offspring can be significantly altered

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