Parental immune priming and offspring immunocompetence and reproductive investment

  • Kathryn Bridget McNamara (Creator)
  • Emile van Lieshout (Creator)
  • Leigh Simmons (Creator)



Data from: The effect of maternal and paternal immune challenge on offspring immunity and reproduction in a cricket

First tab: the effect of maternal and paternal immune challenge on offspring immunity (lytic and PO activity) and reproductive investment. Second tab: the effect of maternal and paternal immune challenge on the likelihood of the paternal generation successfully mating

Trans-generational immune priming is the transmission of enhanced immunity to offspring following a parental immune challenge. Although within-generation increased investment into immunity demonstrates clear costs on reproductive investment in a number of taxa, the potential for immune priming to impact on offspring reproductive investment has not been thoroughly investigated. We explored the reproductive costs of immune priming in a field cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus. To assess the relative importance of maternal and paternal immune status, mothers and fathers were immune challenged with live bacteria or a control solution and assigned to one of four treatments in which one parent, neither or both parents were immune challenged. Families of offspring were reared to adulthood under a food-restricted diet, and approximately 10 offspring in each family were assayed for two measures of immunocompetence. We additionally quantified offspring reproductive investment using sperm viability for males and ovary mass for females. We demonstrate that parental immune challenge has significant consequences for the immunocompetence and, in turn, reproductive investment of their male offspring. A complex interaction between maternal and paternal immune status increased the anti-bacterial immune response of male offspring. This elevated immune response was associated with a reduction in son’s sperm viability, implicating a trans-generational resource trade-off between investment into immunocompetence and reproduction. Our data also show that these costs are sexually dimorphic, as daughters did not demonstrate a similar increase in immunity, despite showing a reduction in ovary mass.
Date made available1 Apr 2014


  • Sexual selection & conflicts
  • Trade-offs
  • Ecological immunology
  • Paternal effects

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