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Male Anglerfish Gives up On 'Essential' Immune System to Mate With its Partner

Representative image by Animalist / YouTube.

Representative image by Animalist / YouTube.

A study, conducted by researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute and the University of Washington, revealed that when male and female anglerfish connect they share a single respiratory and digestive system.

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Scientists, while conducting genetic tests on tissue samples of anglerfish, came across an interesting fact about the immune system of the species.

A study, conducted by researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute and the University of Washington, revealed that when male and female anglerfish connect they share a single respiratory and digestive system.

What happens is the male fuses their tissue with the female for life.

The research published in the journal Science divulged that to accomplish sexual parasitism, the anglerfish loses a key part of its immune system. Owing to which, the bodies of two become one without tissue rejection.

There are two kinds of the immune system in all vertebrates, including humans. The first one is in place by birth. It helps in quickly responding to attacks by microscopic invaders.

On the other hand, the second type is an adaptive system. It produces “killer” T cells to attack the pathogen and also makes antibodies to fight specific bacteria or viruses.

Both kinds of immune systems work in tandem to provide protection from infections and diseases.

The interesting thing that the researchers found was that many anglerfish species have evolved over time and as a result of which they get rid of the genes that control their adaptive immune systems.

It means they are unable to create antibodies and lack those T cells.

“Anglerfish have traded in their immune faculties, which we believe to be essential, for this reproductive behavior,” says Thomas Boehm, a professor at the institute’s Department of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, Germany.

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