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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The haematopoietic system provides numerous essential functions for animals, including transport of gases and nutrients, wound repair, and host defence. Given the fundamental importance of the blood system, these roles are conserved across animals, with specific features shaped by the unique needs and adaptations of different organisms. While even the simplest organisms have haematopoietic systems, increasing size and complexity of organisms has necessitated the evolution of more efficient clotting and oxygen transport systems, more complex circulatory systems, and more diverse blood cell lineages for immune defence. Evolution has sculpted haematopoietic systems for different animals by modification of previously existing programmes and developmental systems, with striking examples of conservation and convergent evolution in the blood systems of distantly related organisms suggesting common adaptive solutions to a range of selective pressures. Notably, our own haematopoietic system recapitulates many features found in ancestral organisms. This chapter discusses how blood and vascular systems have evolved together and share common endothelial heritage, as well as how different blood lineages are produced and how they have evolved to meet new challenges from pathogens. Moreover, it examines how pathogenic threats to blood cells have influenced modern population genetics for humans and in turn impact our susceptibility to various disorders of the blood system. Finally, the chapter suggests how evolved life histories to maximise reproductive success have influenced ageing and disease patterns, such as for blood cancers.

Keywords: clotting, oxygen transport, immunity, ABO blood groups, interferon, ageing, haematopoietic stem cell, sickle cell anaemia, leukaemia, evolutionary medicine

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