Lines of white leghorn chickens were selectively bred for either a high (H) or low (L) antibody response to sheep erythrocytes. The parental lines, HH and LL, and reciprocal crosses, HL (sire line cited first and dam line second) and LH, were compared for their responses to various diseases. High antibody titers were associated with reduced body weight. Lines and their crosses were challenged with infectious diseases. The LL line was most resistant to Mycobacterium avium, whereas the HH line was most susceptible. The HH line was most resistant to Mycoplasma gallisepticum, whereas the LL line was most susceptible. These findings indicate that defense against infectious diseases are resource expensive. In order to save resources, it is possible that different parts of a population might genetically devote high levels of resources against different types of diseases so that the entire population is not susceptible to a single infection.
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Vol. 46 • No. 4