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The Reproductive Microbiome.

BeitragVerfasst: Mittwoch 15. Januar 2020, 21:22
von Teleutotje

Re: The Reproductive Microbiome.

BeitragVerfasst: Mittwoch 15. Januar 2020, 21:28
von Teleutotje
"Micro-organism community influences sex and reproduction in animals

Dutch Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)

15-JAN-2020 - It is a weird idea, but how successful we are to propagate as a couple depends on who else is there. Because a whole collection of microorganisms surrounds us, also with that. Melissah Rowe of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) shows what the impact is with an extensive overview of instructions. It can even lead to new animal species.

It seems like a very intimate moment with just the two of you. But nothing is less true. In, on and around egg and sperm cells, an entire community of all kinds of micro-organisms appears to live. Bacteria, fungi or viruses - good and bad, but with a lot more influence on our health and fertility than we thought. And that also applies to (other) animals.

Conflicting interests
This is not just about sexually transmitted diseases. "It can affect sex, reproduction and species evolution in so many ways," says Melissah Rowe. Partner choice, health, reproductive success and (misunderstood) infertility, conflicting interests between the sexes and even the emergence of new animal species. "And yet that has hardly been investigated so far."

Her research field is the ecology and evolution of reproduction in animals and in particular birds. Rowe has recently started working at the Animal Ecology department of NIOO. She wonders, among other things, what the influence of the so-called microbiome - the micro-organisms present - on reproduction is. Together with colleagues from Oslo, Oxford and Exeter, she compiled an overview of the available scientific evidence.

Bacterium as a jury
A few examples. Men with large amounts of certain bacteria in their seed sample are more often infertile. Bedbug females screw up their defenses prior to mating - their males pierce their abdomen and an infection from a male can be fatal. Finally, in wild ducks, males with more colorful beaks produce seed that is better able to kill unwanted bacteria. This can influence the choice of females for a (safe) partner. Rowe: "I think something like this can be an important evolutionary force." So natural selection: with bacteria and other microorganisms such as the "jury" or the "executioner".

Because the research field is so new and unexplored, there are still many questions to answer. Are the (un) favorable effects caused by some species, or is it the composition of the entire microbial community? Does it evolve differently in females than in males? Does it matter for the success in releasing endangered animals? And it even plays a role in the reproduction of plants. "Because bacteria also live on a pollen grain."

More information
Article: The Reproductive Microbiome: An Emerging Driver of Sexual Selection, Sexual Conflict, Mating Systems, and Reproductive Isolation."