Dehydration enhances innate immunity in a semiaquatic snake from the wet-dry tropics

George A. Brusch, Keith Christian, Gregory P. Brown, Richard Shine, Dale Denardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Dehydration is considered a physiological challenge, and many organisms live in environments that undergo periods of reduced water availability that can lead to dehydration. Recent studies have found a positive relationship between dehydration and innate immune function in animals adapted to xeric or semixeric environments. To explore the generality of this relationship, we examined the impact of dehydration on innate immune performance in water pythons (Liasis fuscus), a semiaquatic snake from the wet-dry tropics of Australia. We collected blood samples from male and female water pythons held in the laboratory without food and water for 4 weeks. We also collected blood from free-ranging snakes throughout the Austral dry-season. We evaluated plasma osmolality and innate immune function (agglutination, lysis, and bacterial-killing ability) and found that increased osmolality, whether manipulated in the laboratory or as a result of natural water limitation, resulted in enhanced aspects of innate immune performance. Counter-intuitively, snakes in the wild became more hydrated as the dry season progressed, suggesting the dehydrated snakes move to water sources periodically to rehydrate. Comparing our data with those from previous studies, we suspect species divergence in the level of dehydration (i.e., hyperosmolality) that triggers enhanced immune capabilities.

Fingerprint

Snakes
immunity
snake
Dehydration
Innate Immunity
dehydration
snakes
Water
osmolality
Boidae
dry season
water
Osmolar Concentration
blood
agglutination
lysis
water availability
Agglutination
divergence
tropics

Keywords

  • hydration
  • immunocompetence
  • Liasis fuscus
  • osmotic stress
  • water limitations
  • water python

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

Cite this

Dehydration enhances innate immunity in a semiaquatic snake from the wet-dry tropics. / Brusch, George A.; Christian, Keith; Brown, Gregory P.; Shine, Richard; Denardo, Dale.

In: Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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