Immunity and lifespan: answering long-standing questions with comparative genomics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long life requires individuals to defend themselves against pathogens over prolonged periods of time whilst minimising damage to themselves. In vertebrates, pathogen defence is provided by two integrated systems, innate and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity is relatively nonspecific, resulting in collateral damage to hosts, and does not involve canonical immunological memory. In contrast, adaptive immunity is highly specific and confers long-lasting memory, which are features that are predicted to facilitate long life. However, there is long-standing debate over the general importance of adaptive immunity for the evolution of extended lifespans, partly because this is difficult to test. We highlight how recent improvements in whole genome assemblies open the door to immunogenomic comparative analyses that enable the coevolution of longevity and specific immune traits to be disentangled.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-661
JournalTrends in Genetics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Genetics
  • Evolutionary Biology

Free keywords

  • Lifespan
  • Longevity
  • Immune genes
  • Adaptive immunity
  • Innate immunity


Dive into the research topics of 'Immunity and lifespan: answering long-standing questions with comparative genomics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this