German scientists at Kiel’s Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research have found that both male and female pipefish contribute to their young’s immunity, unlike in humans.
The sex role of pipefish in reproduction is reversed, much like seahorses, which belong to the same species of fish. Females transfer eggs into the males' brood pouches.
And it is with this premise that scientists at the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Kiel examined the role that both parents play in the immunity of pipefish fry.
Using dead bacteria that was exposed to both the male and female pipefish, they found that both parents contribute antibodies to the fry. Like in other fish, the mother transfers antibodies via the eggs while the father contributes them via the placenta-like structure in his brood pouch. The brood pouch works more like the placenta in humans, which transfers antibodies to the unborn fetus.
The findings present a precedent that might prove interesting, even for human beings, according to Anna Beemelmanns who is part of the team of researchers at the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Kiel. It could also especially play a role in research on epigenetics – the study of heritable changes in gene expression caused by other changes in the underlying DNA sequence, she notes.
"It shows that epigenetic factors could also be differently inherited via the father," Beemelmanns told DW.
So, even though human sperm does not carry antibodies, it is quite possible that fathers may play a bigger role, she adds. And the study at the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research may help pave the way in better understanding the role of the male in the immunity of the child.
Researchers have shown that hackers can use computer viruses to crash cars. In a world where a growing number of devices are connected via the Internet, there could be a growing danger of such attacks.
At least six top AIDS experts were killed in the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane crash. The International AIDS Conference is taking place regardless - DW reviews the key topics being discussed.
Deforestation is a major source of climate-harming CO2 emissions. A new report shows this is drastically reduced when indigenous and traditional communities have the right to manage their own forests.
Germany’s environment ministry believes it’s unlikely Germany will meet its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction goals. They say the country will come up seven percent short, but critics say it could be even worse.