Supplementary results including figures and tables from Immune stability predicts tuberculosis infection risk in a wild mammal

Immunity is one of the most variable phenotypic traits in animals; however, some individuals may show less fluctuation in immune traits, resulting in stable patterns of immune variation over time. It is currently unknown whether immune variation has consequences for infectious disease risk. In this study, we identified moderately stable immune traits in wild African buffalo and asked whether the stability of these traits affected bovine tuberculosis (TB) infection risk. We found that adaptive immune traits such as the level of IFN-γ released after white blood cell stimulation, the number of circulating lymphocytes, and the level of antibodies against bovine adenovirus-3 were moderately repeatable (i.e. stable) over time, whereas parameters related to innate immunity either had low repeatability (circulating eosinophil numbers) or were not repeatable (e.g. neutrophil numbers, plasma bacteria killing capacity). Intriguingly, individuals with more repeatable IFN-γ and lymphocyte levels were at a significantly higher risk of acquiring TB infection. In stark contrast, average IFN-γ and lymphocyte levels were poor predictors of TB risk, indicating that immune variability rather than absolute response level better captured variation in disease susceptibility. This work highlights the important and under-appreciated role of immune variability as a predictor of infection risk.