The members of the Kilner group have just published a paper about a gene strongly associated with social immunity in the burying beetle.
Burying beetles need a small dead animal, like birds or mice, to reproduce. Parents shave off any fur or feathers, roll the flesh into a ball, cover it with antimicrobial fluids and bury it in a shallow grave.
There the flesh becomes an edible nest for their larvae. Here we identify a lysozyme gene in the beetle whose expression is strongly correlated with the antimicrobial potency of the fluids coating the carcass, and increased more than a thousandfold during reproduction. We suggest that this gene evolved originally as part of the beetle's immune system, but now serves to defend larvae from microbial attack.