Disease resistance may be genetic

August 30, 2007

According to a study in Evolution, resistance to certain infectious diseases may be passed genetically from parent to child. The genetic resistance may be beneficial to families as those with the gene are both unlikely to suffer from disease and unlikely to carry the disease home. Paul Schliekelman, author of the study, says the research was inspired by personal experience after catching stomach flus from his daughter three times over a six-month period.

Schliekelman used mathematical models to calculate the possible effect of “kin selection” on natural evolution. “Natural selection is typically seen as ‘survival of the fittest’, but in this case it might be more accurate to say ‘survival of the fittest families,’” says Schliekelman.

His research led to the following conclusions:

-There exists a strong tendency to catch infectious diseases from family members.

-If a relative has a gene that gives resistance to a disease, it would benefit other relatives because they would be less likely to catch the disease.

-Genes that offer resistance to infectious diseases will tend to cluster in families.

-Therefore, the resistance genes in a family help each other out and natural selection in their favor can be dramatically increased.

This model may prove useful in understanding the spread of deadly diseases and may alter the long-term natural selection of certain genes in a population. Studying the genetic behavior of these diseases could be an important step towards understanding the evolutionary history of infectious disease resistance.

Source: Blackwell Publishing

Explore further: Salmonella's strange recipe for defeating the immune system

Related Stories

Collaboration, research key to managing invasive species

February 9, 2016

Invasive species, such as the gypsy moth and emerald ash borer, have had devastating effects on Pennsylvania's forests, and the keys to combatting these threats are active management, collaboration and research, according ...

Scientists disable infectious bacteria by removing key protein

February 4, 2016

Scientists at the John Innes Centre and the University of East Anglia have made an exciting discovery that could provide a new way to prevent bacterial infections in both humans and plants without triggering multi-drug resistance ...

Researchers sequence first bedbug genome

February 4, 2016

Scientists have assembled the first complete genome of one of humanity's oldest and least-loved companions: the bedbug. The new work, led by researchers at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine, ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.