Immunology in wild nonmodel rodents : an ecological context for studies of health and disease

Jackson, JA ORCID: 2015, 'Immunology in wild nonmodel rodents : an ecological context for studies of health and disease' , Parasite Immunology, 37 (5) , pp. 220-232.

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Transcriptomic methods are set to revolutionize the study of the immune system in naturally occurring nonmodel organisms. With this in mind, the present article focuses on ways in which the use of ‘nonmodel’ rodents (not the familiar laboratory species) can advance studies into the classical, but ever relevant, epidemiologic triad of immune defence, infectious disease and environment. For example, naturally occurring rodents are an interesting system in which to study the environmental stimuli that drive the development and homeostasis of the immune system and, by extension, to identify where these stimuli are altered in anthropogenic environments leading to the formation of immunopathological phenotypes. Measurement of immune expression may help define individual heterogeneity in infectious disease susceptibility and transmission and facilitate our understanding of infection dynamics and risk in the natural environment; furthermore, it may provide a means of surveillance that can filter individuals carrying previously unknown acute infections of potential ecological or zoonotic importance. Finally, the study of immunology in wild animals may reveal interactions within the immune system and between immunity and other organismal traits that are not observable under restricted laboratory conditions. Potentiating much of this is the possibility of combining gene expression profiles with analytical tools derived from ecology and systems biology to reverse engineer interaction networks between immune responses, other organismal traits and the environment (including symbiont exposures), revealing regulatory architecture. Such holistic studies promise to link ecology, epidemiology and immunology in natural systems in a unified approach that can illuminate important problems relevant to human health and animal welfare and production.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Parasite Immunology
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0141-9838
Related URLs:
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Leverhulme Trust
Depositing User: JA Jackson
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2016 16:28
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 20:19

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