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Data from: Evolution of personal and social immunity in the context of parental care

Cite this dataset

Ziadie, Michelle A.; Ebot-Ojong, Felicia; McKinney, Elizabeth C.; Moore, Allen J. (2018). Data from: Evolution of personal and social immunity in the context of parental care [Dataset]. Dryad.


Social immunity moderates the spread of pathogens in social groups and is especially likely in groups structured by genetic relatedness. The extent to which specific immune pathways are used is unknown. Here, we investigate the expression and social role of three functionally separate immune genes (pgrp-sc2, thaumatin, and defensin) during parental care in the beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides. These genes reside in different immune pathways, allowing us to test if specific components of the immune system are targeted for social immunity. To test for the evolution of specificity we manipulated the influence of social context and timing on gene expression and quantified the covariance of maternal immune gene expression and offspring fitness. Larvae reduced expression of all three genes in the presence of parents. Parental pgrp-sc2 and thaumatin increased during direct parenting, while defensin was upregulated before larvae arrived. Parental expression of pgrp-sc2 and thaumatin responded similarly to experimental manipulation of timing and presence of larvae, which differed from the response of defensin. We found a positive covariance between maternal expression and offspring fitness for pgrp-sc2 and thaumatin, but not defensin. We suggest that social immunity can involve specific genes and pathways, which reflects evolution as an interacting phenotype during parenting.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1354358; DGE-1443117


Europe and North America