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Male pregnancy – Unravelling the coevolution of parental investment and immune defence

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 MALEPREG project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the MALEPREG project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "MALEPREG" about.

novo    microbial    vertebrate    mammals    biased    neo    textbook    gene    rearrangements    reproduction    biology    genomic    benefits    parental    option    mating    form    convergent    male    heavily    controversial    placentation    viviparity    co    bearing    reversed    arose    genomics    trait    regarding    morphological    unresolved    vertebrates    duplication    species    elucidate    accompanied    coevolved    immunological    adaptive    fresh    gain    basis    mammalian    engineering    understudied    gradient    model    sex    evolution    evolutionary    cas9    broodpouch    question    full    de    fundamentally    disentangled    pipefishes    utilizing    costliest    genus    belongs    roles    emergence    functionalization    female    traits    syngnathids    fitness    look    plan    microbiota    pregnancy    tolerance    drastic    caused    seahorses    groups    genetic    severely    ideal    investment    composition    transcriptomics    young    fertilisation    egg    pave    functions    immune    reorganisations    crispr    independent    external    analysing   

Project "MALEPREG" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
city: KIEL
postcode: 24148

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙499˙989 €
 EC max contribution 1˙499˙989 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2017-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-03-01   to  2023-02-28


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

The question of how sex roles and parental investment have evolved belongs to the most controversial unresolved issues in evolutionary biology. The costliest form of reproduction regarding parental investment is viviparity. Its independent evolution in most vertebrate groups has required drastic morphological and genomic reorganisations in the sex bearing the young. Yet our knowledge is heavily biased towards mammals, where changes in the immune system and microbial composition are associated with pregnancy and placentation. Which factors have caused the selection and accompanied evolution of viviparity in other vertebrates remains severely understudied. As the evolution of viviparity is a textbook model of convergent evolution, I plan on using a comparative approach to identify selection and fitness benefits leading to the evolution of viviparity. I propose analysing mating system evolution, focusing on the unique evolution of male pregnancy in sex-role reversed syngnathids (pipefishes and seahorses) that show a gradient from external fertilisation to full viviparity and are, thus, ideal to study the evolution of viviparity. Only this genus allows the role of egg production and viviparity to be disentangled, as both traits co-occur in the female in most other species. As immunological tolerance is fundamentally associated with the evolution of pregnancy, I will investigate how male pregnancy has coevolved with adaptive immune system rearrangements and the broodpouch specific microbiota. Comparative genomics, transcriptomics and genetic engineering utilizing CRISPR/Cas9 will elucidate the genetic basis of trait loss and gain required for male pregnancy. In particular, I will assess whether new functions arose via gene duplication and neo-functionalization, via gene co-option or via de novo gene emergence. This proposal will pave the way for studying viviparity evolution beyond the mammalian model and will provide a fresh look at sex roles and parental investment.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Anne Beemelmanns, Maude Poirier, Till Bayer, Sven Kuenzel, Olivia Roth
Microbial embryonal colonization during pipefish male pregnancy
published pages: , ISSN: 2045-2322, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-37026-3
Scientific Reports 9/1 2019-11-07
2019 Charlotte Jessica E. Metcalf, Olivia Roth, Andrea L. Graham
Why leveraging sex differences in immune trade‐offs may illuminate the evolution of senescence
published pages: , ISSN: 0269-8463, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13458
Functional Ecology 2019-11-07

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