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Marsupial immunology bounding ahead

Katherine Belov A,E, Robert D. Miller B, Julie M. Old C and Lauren J. Young D

Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.

Native and Pest Animal Unit, School of Science and Health, Hawkesbury, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.

School of Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Qld 4702, Australia.

Corresponding author. Email:


Marsupial immune responses were previously touted as primitive’ but we now know that the marsupial immune system is complex and on par with that of eutherian mammals. In this manuscript we review the field of marsupial immunology, focusing on basic anatomy, developmental immunology, immunogenetics and evolution. We concentrate on advances to our understanding of marsupial immune gene architecture, made possible by the recent sequencing of the opossum, tammar wallaby and Tasmanian devil genomes. Characterisation of immune gene sequences now paves the way for the development of immunological assays that will allow us to more accurately study health and disease in marsupials.
Additional keywords: immunity, immunoglobulin, metatherian, MHC.
Received 2 November 2012, accepted 9 April 2013, published online 3 June 2013

Australian Journal of Zoology, 2013

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