Disease resistance may be genetic

Aug 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: Gene interacts with stress and leads to heart disease in some people

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Taking a shortcut to improving wheat

Sep 12, 2014

In 2011 the world's farms produced a total of 681 million tonnes of wheat, but with an ever growing demand from a growing population, there is a real need for increasing yields yet further.

Big science from small insects

Sep 22, 2014

Anniversaries are often a time to look back. But after taking stock of the past, it can be just as important to look to the future.

Battling superbugs with gene-editing system

Sep 21, 2014

In recent years, new strains of bacteria have emerged that resist even the most powerful antibiotics. Each year, these superbugs, including drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis and staphylococcus, infect ...

Recommended for you

DNA signature found in ice storm babies

Sep 29, 2014

The number of days an expectant mother was deprived of electricity during Quebec's Ice Storm (1998) predicts the epigenetic profile of her child, a new study finds.

User comments : 0