Genome complexity: epigenetics and immunity (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, November 11, 2015, 16:19 (1409 days ago) @ David Turell

A study in pigeons shows immunity transferred through two generations:

Suspecting that older generations were passing along immunity capabilities to more than just their own chicks, the researchers conducted a several year study of urban pigeons. They started by injecting 60 females with a protein called haemocyanin—it helps to transport oxygen in some invertebrates but does not do anything beneficial to pigeons. They also injected 60 additional female pigeons with a saline solution to serve as a control group. The team then injected the same protein into all of the offspring of the test pigeons, and then two years later, into all of the third generation of offspring as well. The purpose of the injections was to cause the birds to produce antibodies as a part of an immune response—after the birds were injected, blood tests were taken to see how strong of a response was triggered. They discovered that the immune response of the third generation was stronger for those chicks whose grandmothers had received haemocyanin than for those whose grandmothers had received the saline. This of course suggested that in reacting to the protein initially, the grandmother pigeons had developed an immune response that they had somehow passed down through their offspring, to their grand-chicks.

Comment: Lamarck lives!

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