925 research outputs found

    A review of suggested mechanisms of MHC odor signaling

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    Although an individual’s mix of MHC immune genes determines its resistance, findingMHC-dependent mate choice occurred by accident in inbred mice. Inbred mice prefer MHC dissimilarmates, even when the choice was restricted to urine. It took decades to find the info-chemicals, whichhave to be as polymorphic as the MHC. Microbiota were suggested repeatedly as the origin ofthe odor signal though germ-free mice maintained normal preference. Different versions of the‘carrier hypothesis’ suggested MHC molecules carry volatiles after the bound peptide is released.Theory predicted an optimal individual MHC diversity to maximize resistance. The optimallycomplementary mate should be and is preferred as several studies show. Thus, the odor signal needsto transmit the exact information of the sender’s MHC alleles, as do MHC ligand peptides but notmicrobiota. The ‘MHC peptide hypothesis’ assumes that olfactory perception of the peptide ligandprovides information about the MHC protein in a key-lock fashion. Olfactory neurons react onlyto the anchors of synthesized MHC peptides, which reflect the binding MHC molecule’s identity.Synthesized peptides supplemented to a male’s signal affect choice in the predicted way, however,not when anchors are mutated. Also, the human brain detects smelled synthesized self-peptidesas such. After mate choice, the lottery of meiosis of randomly paired oocyte and sperm haplotypeswould often produce MHC non-optimal offspring. In sticklebacks, eggs select MHC-compatiblesperm, thus prefer the best combination close to the population optimum

    Extortion - a voracious prosocial strategy

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    Recently Press and Dyson have dramatically changed our view on the Prisoner's Dilemma by proposing a new class of strategies that enforce a linear relationship between the two players' scores. Players adopting ‘extortion’ respond with cooperation to cooperation in most cases, defect in other rounds, but respond to defection with defection. In this way, extortion enforces full cooperation of the partner who accedes to it because he profits from doing so. This unbeatable strategy is nevertheless prosocial because it is mostly cooperative and induces cooperation even though it gains most itself. Experiments show that about 40% of humans choose to use extortion in competitive situations or when they have the power to exchange coplayers. On being punished in egalitarian situations, they use a generous strategy

    MHC mediates social odor via microbiota—it cannot work: a comment on Schubert et al.

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    Schubert et al. (2021) review the evidence from 577 publications about how the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC), might mediate social odor via the microbiota community to “stimulate advances in our knowledge of this key pathway for social communication.” The idea is that, as part of the immune system of all vertebrates, polymorphic MHC molecules control microorganisms present in the microbiome, which produce odor that may serve as a social signal. MHC, microbe, odor signal is the sequence of steps leading eventually from MHC to social signal, for example, for MHC-dependent mate choice. However, none of the 577 studies showed the odor to be a social signal

    Do three-spined sticklebacks avoid consuming copepods, the first intermediate host of Schistocephalus solidus ? — an experimental analysis of behavioural resistance

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    Many parasites that use intermediate hosts are transmitted to the next host through predation. If the next host's fitness is strongly reduced by the parasite, it is under selection either to recognize and avoid infected intermediate hosts or to exclude that prey species from its diet when alternative prey are available. We investigated the predator-prey interaction between laboratory bred three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus), the second intermediate host of the cestode Schistocephalus solidus, from 2 parasitized and 1 unparasitized population, and different prey types: infected and uninfected copepods and size-matched Daphnia as alternative prey. Copepods with infective procercoids were more active, had a lower swimming ability and were easier to catch than uninfected controls. The sticklebacks preferred moving copepods. Therefore parasitized copepods were preferentially attacked and consumed. There was no effect of the sticklebacks' parent population being parasitized or not. The sticklebacks switched from Daphnia to (uninfected) copepods in the course of a hunting sequence; this switch occurred earlier in smaller fish. With this strategy the fish maximized their feeding rate: Daphnia were easier to catch than copepods but increasingly difficult to swallow when the stomach was filling up especially for smaller fish. However, there was no indication that sticklebacks from infected populations either consumed Daphnia rather than copepods or switched later in the hunting sequence to consuming copepods than fish from an uninfected population. Thus, sticklebacks did not avoid parasitized prey although S. solidus usually has a high prevalence and causes a strong fitness reduction in its stickleback hos

    An experimental conflict of interest between parasites reveals the mechanism of host manipulation

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    Parasites can increase their host’s predation susceptibility. It is a long-standing puzzle, whether this is caused by host manipulation, an evolved strategy of the parasite, or by side effects due to, for example, the parasite consuming energy from its host thereby changing the host’s trade-off between avoiding predation and foraging toward foraging. Here, we use sequential infection of three-spined sticklebacks with the cestode Schistocephalus solidus so that parasites have a conflict of interest over the direction of host manipulation. With true manipulation, the not yet infective parasite should reduce rather than enhance risk taking because predation would be fatal for its fitness; if host behavior is changed by a side effect, the 2 parasites would add their increase of predation risk because both drain energy. Our results support the latter hypothesis. In an additional experiment, we tested both infected and uninfected fish either starved or satiated. True host manipulation should act independently of the fish’s hunger status and continue when energy drain is balanced through satiation. Starvation and satiation affect the risk averseness of infected sticklebacks similarly to that of uninfected starved and satiated ones. Increased energy drain rather than active host manipulation dominates behavioral changes of S. solidus-infected sticklebacks

    In vitro transition of Schistocephalus solidus (Cestoda) from coracidium to procercoid and from procercoid to plerocercoid

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    With the present study, a culture system for successive life-cycle stages of the tapeworm Schistocephalus solidus was developed and this report documents for the first time, cultivation of the procercoid stage of S. solidus from eggs. Additionally we have transformed procercoids dissected from experimentally infected copepods and cultured procercoids into the early plerocercoid stage in vitro. Observations in the culture suggest that the coracidia can interact with their external environment and need no host specific stimuli, except for the components in the culture medium, for activation and hatching from the embryophore. Increasing the culture medium pH from 7.3 to 8.0 improved escape rates and frequencies of hook contractions, suggesting that the oncosphere may recognize and respond to environmental conditions along the host intestine. Procercoids in the culture did not stop growing indicating that conditions within the copepod may be important to limit growth and to induce transformation to plerocercoids. When procercoids are dissected from copepods and transferred to the culture, the outer tegument layers and cercomer starts to loosen. Comparison of the lectin staining of the loosened outer tegument layers and cercomer in procercoids dissected from copepods confirms that transitions of both, the oncosphere to procercoid and procercoid to plerocercoids, has taken place in the in vitro cultures

    A risk-seeking future

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    The 2014 IPCC Assessment expresses doubt that the global surface temperature increase will remain within the 2 °C target without deploying risky carbon-capturing or solar radiation-deflecting technologies. New behavioural research suggests that, if the IPCC is right, citizens and policymakers will support such risk-taking

    Extortion subdues human players but is finally punished in the prisoner’s dilemma

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    Extortion is the practice of obtaining advantages through explicit forces and threats. Recently, it was demonstrated that even the repeated prisoner’s dilemma, one of the key models to explain mutual cooperation, allows for implicit forms of extortion. According to the theory, extortioners demand and receive an excessive share of any surplus, which allows them to outperform any adapting co-player. To explore the performance of such strategies against humans, we have designed an economic experiment in which participants were matched either with an extortioner or with a generous co-player. Although extortioners succeeded against each of their human opponents, extortion resulted in lower payoffs than generosity. Human subjects showed a strong concern for fairness: they punished extortion by refusing to fully cooperate, thereby reducing their own, and even more so, the extortioner’s gains. Thus, the prospects of extorting others in social relationships seem limited; in the long run, generosity is more profitable