From comparative immunology to the conservation of albatrosses, the evolutionary ecology of maternal antibody persistence

Event Details

June 21, 2019
11:00 am


Thiery Boulinier

Guest speaker: Professor Thiery Boulinier – CEFE CNRS – Université Montpellier
Host: Stephen Wright


The transfer of antibodies from mothers to vertebrate offspring has broad potential implications in evolutionary ecology, from the adaptive value of maternal effects to the role of transgenerational plasticity in host-parasite interactions. Following our early finding that maternal antibody can persist for a long time (several weeks) after hatching in nestlings of a long-lived seabird, the Cory’s shearwater, we have been exploring (i) how this neglected life history traits varies among species with contrasted nestling rearing periods and (ii) whether the long persistence of maternal antibodies could be used to protect nestlings of long-lived threatened species exposed to deadly infectious agents. We have been investigating this in the case of albatrosses recurrently hit by epizootics of avian cholera on Amsterdam Island (southern Indian Ocean). The results have implications for conservation, but also highlight how research in ecological immunology need to combine functional and evolutionary approaches while also keeping in mind ecological and epidemiological settings.