• Wed. Dec 8th, 2021

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Male seahorses can get pregnant because they lack key immunity genes

seahorse

A male long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus)

STEVE TREWHELLA/Nature Photographers Ltd/Alamy

A missing or dysfunctional part of the vertebrate immune system might explain why male seahorses and pipefishes can carry a pregnancy – and could possibly inspire novel treatments for immune-related diseases in humans and other animals.

Olivia Roth at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, wanted to understand how seahorses and their relatives – members of the Syngnathidae fish family – became the only animals in the world known to have developed biological male pregnancy. So she and her colleagues sequenced …