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Creators/Authors contains: "Martin, Lynn B."

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  1. Abstract

    Variation in DNA methylation is associated with many ecological and life history traits, including niche breadth and lifespan. In vertebrates, DNA methylation occurs almost exclusively at “CpG” dinucleotides. Yet, how variation in the CpG content of the genome impacts organismal ecology has been largely overlooked. Here, we explore associations between promoter CpG content, lifespan and niche breadth among 60, amniote vertebrate species. The CpG content of 16 functionally relevant gene promoters was strongly, positively associated with lifespan in mammals and reptiles, but was not related to niche breadth. Possibly, by providing more substrate for CpG methylation to occur, high promoter CpG content extends the time taken for deleterious, age-related errors in CpG methylation patterns to accumulate, thereby extending lifespan. The association between CpG content and lifespan was driven by gene promoters with intermediate CpG enrichment—those known to be predisposed to regulation by methylation. Our findings provide novel support for the idea that high CpG content has been selected for in long-lived species to preserve the capacity for gene expression regulation by CpG methylation. Intriguingly, promoter CpG content was also dependent on gene function in our study; immune genes had on average 20% less CpG sites than metabolic- and stress-relatedmore »genes.

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  3. ABSTRACT Powered flight has evolved several times in vertebrates and constrains morphology and physiology in ways that likely have shaped how organisms cope with infections. Some of these constraints probably have impacts on aspects of immunology, such that larger fliers might prioritize risk reduction and safety. Addressing how the evolution of flight may have driven relationships between body size and immunity could be particularly informative for understanding the propensity of some taxa to harbor many virulent and sometimes zoonotic pathogens without showing clinical disease. Here, we used a comparative framework to quantify scaling relationships between body mass and the proportions of two types of white blood cells – lymphocytes and granulocytes (neutrophils/heterophils) – across 63 bat species, 400 bird species and 251 non-volant mammal species. By using phylogenetically informed statistical models on field-collected data from wild Neotropical bats and from captive bats, non-volant mammals and birds, we show that lymphocyte and neutrophil proportions do not vary systematically with body mass among bats. In contrast, larger birds and non-volant mammals have disproportionately higher granulocyte proportions than expected for their body size. Our inability to distinguish bat lymphocyte scaling from birds and bat granulocyte scaling from all other taxa suggests there maymore »be other ecological explanations (i.e. not flight related) for the cell proportion scaling patterns. Future comparative studies of wild bats, birds and non-volant mammals of similar body mass should aim to further differentiate evolutionary effects and other aspects of life history on immune defense and its role in the tolerance of (zoonotic) infections.« less
  4. Body mass affects many biological traits, but its impacts on immune defences are fairly unknown. Recent research on mammals found that neutrophil concentrations disproportionately increased (scaled hypermetrically) with body mass, a result not predicted by any existing theory. Although the scaling relationship for mammals might predict how leucocyte concentrations scale with body mass in other vertebrates, vertebrate classes are distinct in many ways that might affect their current and historic interactions with parasites and hence the evolution of their immune systems. Subsequently, here, we asked which existing scaling hypothesis best-predicts relationships between body mass and lymphocyte, eosinophil and heterophil concentrations—the avian functional equivalent of neutrophils—among more than 100 species of birds. We then examined the predictive power of body mass relative to life-history variation, as extensive literature indicates that the timing of key life events has influenced immune system variation among species. Finally, we ask whether avian scaling patterns differ from the patterns we observed in mammals. We found that an intercept-only model best explained lymphocyte and eosinophil concentrations among birds, indicating that the concentrations of these cell types were both independent of body mass. For heterophils, however, body mass explained 31% of the variation in concentrations among species, muchmore »more than life-history variation (4%). As with mammalian neutrophils, avian heterophils scaled hypermetrically ( b = 0.19 ± 0.05), but more steeply than mammals (approx. 1.5 ×; 0.11 ± 0.03). As such, we discuss why birds might require more broadly protective cells compared to mammals of the same body size. Overall, body mass appears to have strong influences on the architecture of immune systems.« less
  5. Abstract Flexibility in the regulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis is an important mediator of stress resilience as it helps organisms adjust to, avoid, or compensate for acute and chronic challenges across changing environmental contexts. Glucocorticoids remain the favorite metric from medicine to conservation biology to attempt to quantify stress resilience despite the skepticism around their consistency in relation to individual health, welfare, and fitness. We suggest that a cochaperone molecule related to heat shock proteins and involved in glucocorticoid receptor activity, FKBP5, may mediate HPA flexibility and therefore stress resilience because it affects how individuals can regulate glucocorticoids and therefore capacitates their abilities to adjust phenotypes appropriately to prevailing, adverse conditions. Although the molecule is well studied in the biomedical literature, FKBP5 research in wild vertebrates is limited. In the present article, we highlight the potential major role of FKBP5 as mediator of HPA axis flexibility in response to adversity in humans and lab rodents.
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