Navigation Links
Nursing gerbils unravel benefit of multiple mothers in collective mammals

In mammals such as rodents that raise their young as a group, infants will nurse from their mother as well as other females, a dynamic known as allosuckling. Ecologists have long hypothesized that allosuckling lets newborns stockpile antibodies to various diseases, but the experimental proof has been lacking until now.

An in-press report in the journal Mammalian Biology found that infant Mongolian gerbils that suckled from females given separate vaccines for two different diseases wound up with antibodies for both illnesses.

The findings not only demonstrate the potential purpose of allosuckling, but also provide the first framework for further studying it in the wild by using traceable antibodies, said first author Romain Garnier, a postdoctoral researcher in Princeton University's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Garnier conducted the research with Sylvain Gandon and Thierry Boulinier of the Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology in France, and with Yannick Chaval and Nathalie Charbonnel at the Center for Biology and Management of Populations in France.

Garnier and his coauthors administered an influenza vaccine to one group of female gerbils, and a vaccine for Borrelia burgdorferi the bacterial agent of Lyme disease to another group. Once impregnated, female gerbils from each vaccine group were paired and, as the gerbils do in nature, kept separate from the male gerbils to birth and rear their young. In the wild, females can choose which young to nurse and infant gerbils can likewise choose which female to suckle. In the typical lab, however, one male, one female and their young are housed together, the researchers wrote.

When screened upon birth, all the infant gerbils had no detectable antibodies against influenza while one had antibodies against B. burgdorferi, according to the paper. But after eight days of nursing, all the infants contained high levels of antibodies for both influenza and B. burgdorferi, suggesting that the females nursed the young their own and those of the other female evenly. These results suggest that allosuckling is indeed intended to expose newborn animals to a host of antibodies.

This benefit sheds light on a peculiar arrangement in cooperative mammals that ecologists have puzzled over, the authors wrote. In social species, females usually fall into dominant or subordinate groups with the subordinate females typically involved in tending to the young produced by dominant females. Yet, in many cases, subordinate females are "allowed" to breed. Garnier and his colleagues suggest that the potentially larger antibody pool available through nursing might be one of the reasons why.


Contact: Morgan Kelly
Princeton University

Related biology news :

1. NYU College of Nursings Dr. Anastasi awarded $2.5 million from NIH to study IBS symptom management
2. Unraveling the threads: Simplest cotton genome offers clues for fiber improvements
3. It takes two to tangle: Wistar scientists further unravel telomere biology
4. Scientists unravel the mystery of marine methane oxidation
5. Scientists unravel resistance to breast cancer treatment
6. Information theory helps unravel DNAs genetic code
7. Biophysicists unravel secrets of genetic switch
8. How bacteria change movement direction in response to oxygen: Molecular interactions unravelled
9. Lets get moving: Unraveling how locomotion starts
10. Virginia Tech and University of Tuscia lead team to unravel origin of devastating kiwifruit bacterium
11. Stomata development in plants unraveled -- a valuable discovery for environmental research
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/23/2017)... N.Y. , June 23, 2017  IBM (NYSE: ... dairy research, today announced a new collaboration using next-generation ... chances that the global milk supply is impacted by ... Cornell University has become the newest academic institution to ... a food safety initiative that includes IBM Research, Mars, ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... , May 5, 2017 ... just announced a new breakthrough in biometric authentication ... exploits quantum mechanical properties to perform biometric authentication. These ... smart semiconductor material created by Ram Group and ... finance, entertainment, transportation, supply chains and security. Ram ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... 13, 2017 UBM,s Advanced Design and Manufacturing ... feature emerging and evolving technology through its 3D Printing ... run alongside the expo portion of the event and ... demonstrations focused on trending topics within 3D printing and ... manufacturing event will take place June 13-15, 2017 at the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a development-stage cancer-focused pharmaceutical company advancing targeted antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) ... all uses of targeted HPLN (Hybrid Polymerized Liposomal Nanoparticle), a technology developed ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... USDM Life Sciences , the ... sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation by Subbu Viswanathan and Jennifer Jaye ... GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will present a revolutionary approach to achieving ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... The Giving Tree Wellness ... targeting the needs of consumers who are incorporating medical marijuana into their wellness ... Arizona. , As operators of two successful Valley dispensaries, The Giving Tree’s two ...
(Date:10/6/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... entrepreneurship within the healthcare and technology sector at their fourth annual Conference where ... featuring 30 inspiring speakers and the ELEVATE pitch competition showcasing early stage digital ...
Breaking Biology Technology: