Research Topic

Wild Immunology – The answers are out there

About this Research Topic

“Go into partnership with nature; she does more than half the work and asks none of the fee.” – Martin H. Fisher

Recent advances in technology, particularly with respect to computing power and molecular biology techniques, provide unprecedented research opportunities that once would have just been ...

“Go into partnership with nature; she does more than half the work and asks none of the fee.” – Martin H. Fisher

Recent advances in technology, particularly with respect to computing power and molecular biology techniques, provide unprecedented research opportunities that once would have just been interesting “thought” exercises. The technological advances have begun to remove barriers such as logistical constraints and lack of species-specific reagents. Despite revolutionary new tools, many long-standing gaps in our understanding of the immune system persist. Supposed cures for cancers and infectious diseases are discovered almost daily in mouse models, yet rarely do these discoveries translate to effective treatments for human or veterinary medicine. By minimizing variation controlled lab studies can precisely map immunological pathways and identify cause and effect. However, often these studies result in treatments that are specific to only a few rodent strains and rarely relevant in the genetic and environmental complexities of the real world.

An effective but largely unrealized complement to traditional immunology is to embrace natural variation in genes and the environment by studying animals in natural settings. These “wild immunology” studies can provide insights into ancient immunological defences and the evolution of the immune system, and has the potential to drive innovation for human and veterinary medicine. The explosion of published genomes from alpaca (Vicugna pacos) to zebra fish (Danio rerio) and the plummeting cost of genome and transcriptome sequencing facilitates the development of species-specific reagents that makes it no longer necessary to focus on the few well-characterized model organisms.

Another reason for immunologists to venture into wild immunology is that 60% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses, with over 70% of these zoonotic diseases originating in wildlife. Infections causing SARS, ebola and rabies usually lead to severe disease in humans but are asymptomatic in reservoir species such as bats. Despite the relevance of bats to global health, relatively little is known about bat immunology. Studying animal reservoirs of pathogens that cause human infections could provide clues for treatment or prevention of disease in humans and wildlife.

The focus of this research topic is to move beyond simple immunological assays and drill down into the precise cellular and molecular mechanisms that direct immune responses, concentrating on how natural models can be used to uncover deep-rooted immunological defences. The key questions to address are: Which molecules and pathways are conserved across species? Which molecules and pathways are exploited by pathogens to cause disease? What methods can be broadly used or readily adapted for wild immunology? How does co-infection and exposure to a dynamic environment affect immunity?

This research topic is intended to complement traditional immunology research with studies that have ventured out of the lab to tackle immunology amid the complexity of the real world. The answers to long-standing questions are likely out there, we just need to ask the right questions and look in the right places. We are looking forward to an enlightening and thought-provoking discussion of wild immunology on the topics of transcriptomics and genomics, checkpoint molecules, microbiota, long-term field studies, wild rodents, and veterinary medicine, and the evolution of the immune system.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be in line with the scope of the specialty and field to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Manuscripts discovered during any stage of peer review to be outside of the scope may be transferred to a suitable section or field, or withdrawn from review.

Recent Articles

Loading..

About Frontiers Research Topics

With their unique mixes of varied contributions from Original Research to Review Articles, Research Topics unify the most influential researchers, the latest key findings and historical advances in a hot research area! Find out more on how to host your own Frontiers Research Topic or contribute to one as an author.

Topic Editors

Loading..

Submission Deadlines

31 August 2017 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

Loading..

Topic Editors

Loading..

Submission Deadlines

31 August 2017 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

Loading..
Loading..
Yearly

total views article views article downloads topic views

 
Top countries
Top referring sites
Loading..

Comments

Loading..

Add a comment

Add comment
Back to top