Navigation Links
USF researchers show invasive sparrows immune cells sharpen as they spread

TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 20, 2013) - When invasive species move into new areas, they often lose their natural enemies, including the microbes that make them sick. But new research from evolutionary biologists at the University of South Florida has found that adjustments in the immune system may help house sparrows, one of the world's most common bird species, thrive in new areas.

In research published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences, Associate Professor Lynn Martin and Assistant Professor Aaron Schrey from Armstrong Atlantic State University found that on the molecular level, the immune systems of house sparrows at the edge of the species' range in Kenya were more attuned to finding dangerous parasites than birds from older sites in the same country. These differences may help keep invading birds from becoming sick in new areas where pathogens are more likely novel.

"A major function of the immune system is distinguishing self from non-self, and immune cells do this with special receptors that look for molecules made by microbes that animal cells don't make," Martin said.

"In the range edge populations, sparrows' immune cells expressed a lot more of the surveillance molecule for microbe components than in old sites. So, perhaps their immune systems are more attuned to finding particularly harmful parasites in new regions where parasites are more likely novel."

USF graduate student Courtney Coon and recent Ph.D. graduate Andrea Liebl, now post-doctoral researcher with the University of Exeter-Cornwall, were part of the research team.

Martin's lab has focused much of their efforts understanding how invasive species spread across the globe. Their main study species, also known as the English sparrow, spread rapidly across North and South America as well as Australia and now Africa and Southeast Asia since they were introduced from Western Europe more than 150 years ago.

Aggressive and often crowding out native species, the small but charismatic songbird is both adored, having been mentioned in Shakespeare's sonnets, and reviled for its voracious and destructive appetite for grain. In the United States, the house sparrow was often the target of organized eradication programs and is now implicated in the declines of other species because of its role in cycles of certain diseases.

Martin has focused on Kenya's sparrow population because it is one of the world's newest invasions of sparrows. Martin's newest research looked at how interactions between hosts and parasites influenced the success of host species' introductions and range. Although other factors were important to predicting immune system variation, such as whether individuals were infected by malaria, the best predictor of was population age: birds from newer sites searched more for parasites than birds from old sites.

The ultimate goal of Martin's research is to understand what gives invasive species their edge, which could help government agencies focus resources on eradicating those species with the most potential to do damage to natural environments and influence how species are managed with respect to climate change and other anthropogenic factors such as urbanization.


Contact: Vickie Chachere
University of South Florida (USF Health)

Related biology news :

1. Researchers use CT and 3-D printers to recreate dinosaur fossils
2. Natural compound mitigates effects of methamphetamine abuse, University of Missouri researchers find
3. Researchers classify urban residential desert landscapes
4. Researchers test effects of LEDs on leaf lettuce
5. Researchers develop new approach to identify possible ecological effects of releasing genetically engineered insects
6. Researchers capture structure of key part of deadly Nipah virus
7. Researchers identify main genes responsible for asthma attacks in children
8. Northeastern researchers have discovered a new treatment to cure MRSA infection
9. Danish researchers predict risk of valvular heart disease
10. Using morphine after abdominal surgery may prolong pain, CU-Boulder researchers find
11. Wayne State researchers discover specific inhibitor for rheumatoid arthritis treatment
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/22/2016)... American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics was once again ... of the fastest-growing trade shows during the Fastest 50 Awards ... Las Vegas . Winners are ... of the following categories: net square feet of paid exhibit ... 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked 23 out of 50 ...
(Date:6/20/2016)... , June 20, 2016 Securus ... justice technology solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections ... the prisons involved, it has secured the final ... (DOC) facilities for Managed Access Systems (MAS) installed. ... additional facilities to be installed by October, 2016. ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... -- Paris Police Prefecture ... to ensure the safety of people and operations in several ... tournament Teleste, an international technology group specialised in ... that its video security solution will be utilised by ... safety across the country. The system roll-out is scheduled for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)...  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a university competition that ... living systems and biotechnology, announced its winning teams at ... New York City . The teams, ... at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during the daylong summit. ... curator of architecture and design, and Suzanne Lee ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today announced that Dr. ... STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I am thrilled that Dr. ... STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific integrator, Hays brings a ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company dedicated ... the medical community, has closed its Series A funding ... . "We have received a commitment from ... we need to meet our current goals," stated ... the runway to complete validation on the current projects ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ClinCapture, the only ... Center and will showcase its product’s latest features from June 26 to June ... scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials in The Cloud during the conference. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: