Ecological Research

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 559–566 | Cite as

Reproduction compromises adaptive immunity in a cyprinid fish

  • Indrikis A. Krams
  • Katariina Rumvolt
  • Lauri Saks
  • Ronalds Krams
  • Didzis Elferts
  • Jolanta Vrublevska
  • Markus J. Rantala
  • Sanita Kecko
  • Dina Cīrule
  • Severi Luoto
  • Tatjana Krama
Original Article


Vertebrates differ in their ability to mount an adaptive immune response to novel antigens. Bioenergetic resources available to an organism are finite; investment in reproduction compromises immune function and may therefore affect critical life history trade-offs. We tested whether reproduction impairs the ability to produce an antibody response against a novel antigen in roach (Rutilus rutilus). The antigen approach has rarely been used in fish studies, and the ability to produce an antibody response during reproductive season has never been tested in cyprinid fish before. The fish in an experimental group were injected with a Brucella abortus (BA) antigen, while the fish in a control group were injected with an isotonic saline solution. Blood samples were extracted from all the fish to obtain the total number and proportion of blood cells such as lymphocytes, neutrophils and antioxidant glutathione. The groups were tested during the spawning season and one week after it had ended. The roach were unable to mount an immune response during spawning but produced a robust response after it. We conclude that reproduction is costly in roach, as indicated by the increased concentration of neutrophils in fish injected with BA during spawning, as well as the negative associations between neutrophil counts and glutathione levels. This study demonstrates the potential of BA antigen as a research tool in experimental research on fish ecological immunology.


Adaptive immunity Fish Life history Reproduction Spawning Trade-offs 



We thank Prof. Arturs Škute for support during all phases of this study. We also thank Riina, Rein and Risto Kalda and Imre Taal for their assistance. The study was funded by the Science Council of Latvia (Grant No. # 290/2012) (to I.A. Krams and T. Krama), by a project (Grant No. # 2013/0067/1DP/ of the European Social Fund, and a personal grant (PUT1223) from the Estonian Ministry of Education and Science (to I.A. Krams and T. Krama). The research reported here complied with the legal ethical requirements of the Republic of Estonia (ethical permit #56 issued by the Ministry of Rural Affairs).


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Indrikis A. Krams
    • 1
    • 2
  • Katariina Rumvolt
    • 3
  • Lauri Saks
    • 3
  • Ronalds Krams
    • 4
  • Didzis Elferts
    • 2
    • 5
  • Jolanta Vrublevska
    • 4
  • Markus J. Rantala
    • 6
  • Sanita Kecko
    • 4
  • Dina Cīrule
    • 2
  • Severi Luoto
    • 7
    • 8
  • Tatjana Krama
    • 4
    • 9
  1. 1.Institute of Ecology and Earth SciencesThe University of TartuTartuEstonia
  2. 2.Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment BIORRīgaLatvia
  3. 3.Estonian Marine InstituteUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia
  4. 4.Department of Biotechnology, Institute of Life Sciences and TechnologyDaugavpils UniversityDaugavpilsLatvia
  5. 5.Department of Botany and EcologyUniversity of LatviaRīgaLatvia
  6. 6.Department of Biology and Turku Brain and Mind CentreUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  7. 7.English, Drama and Writing StudiesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  8. 8.School of PsychologyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  9. 9.Department of Plant Protection, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesEstonian University of Life ScienceTartuEstonia

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