Data from: From the animal house to the field: are there consistent individual differences in immunological profile in wild populations of field voles (Microtus agrestis)?
Arriero, Elena et al. (2018), Data from: From the animal house to the field: are there consistent individual differences in immunological profile in wild populations of field voles (Microtus agrestis)?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.110pk
Inbred mouse strains, living in simple laboratory environments far removed from nature, have been shown to vary consistently in their immune response. However, wildlife populations are typically outbreeding and face a multiplicity of challenges, parasitological and otherwise. In this study we seek evidence of consistent difference in immunological profile amongst individuals in the wild. We apply a novel method in this context, using longitudinal (repeated capture) data from natural populations of field voles, Microtus agrestis, on a range of life history and infection metrics, and on gene expression levels. We focus on three immune genes, IFN-γ, Gata3, and IL-10, representing respectively the Th1, Th2 and regulatory elements of the immune response. Our results show that there was clear evidence of consistent differences between individuals in their typical level of expression of at least one immune gene, and at most all three immune genes, after other measured sources of variation had been taken into account. Furthermore, individuals that responded to changing circumstances by increasing expression levels of Gata3 had a correlated increase in expression levels of IFN-γ. Our work stresses the importance of acknowledging immunological variation amongst individuals in studies of parasitological and infectious disease risk in wildlife populations.