Rapid induction of immune density-dependent prophylaxis in adult social insects. - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Biology Letters Year : 2009

Rapid induction of immune density-dependent prophylaxis in adult social insects.

Abstract

The innate immune system provides defence against parasites and pathogens. This defence comes at a cost, suggesting that immune function should exhibit plasticity in response to variation in environmental threats. Density-dependent prophylaxis (DDP) has been demonstrated mostly in phase-polyphenic insects, where larval group size determines levels of immune function in either adults or later larval instars. Social insects exhibit extreme sociality, but DDP has been suggested to be absent from these ecologically dominant taxa. Here we show that adult bumble-bee workers (Bombus terrestris) exhibit rapid plasticity in their immune function in response to social context. These results suggest that DDP does not depend upon larval conditions, and is likely to be a widespread and labile response to rapidly changing conditions in adult insect populations. This has obvious ramifications for experimental analysis of immune function in insects, and serious implications for our understanding of the epidemiology and impact of pathogens and parasites in spatially structured adult insect populations.

Dates and versions

hal-00436726 , version 1 (27-11-2009)

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Mario X. Ruiz-González, Yannick Moret, Mark J.F. Brown. Rapid induction of immune density-dependent prophylaxis in adult social insects.. Biology Letters, 2009, 5 (6), pp.781-783. ⟨10.1098/rsbl.2009.0505⟩. ⟨hal-00436726⟩
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