Introduction. Ecological immunology.

Zoological Institute, University of Kiel, Am Botanischen Garten, 24098 Kiel, Germany.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences (Impact Factor: 6.31). 11/2008; 364(1513):3-14. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0249
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT An organism's fitness is critically reliant on its immune system to provide protection against parasites and pathogens. The structure of even simple immune systems is surprisingly complex and clearly will have been moulded by the organism's ecology. The aim of this review and the theme issue is to examine the role of different ecological factors on the evolution of immunity. Here, we will provide a general framework of the field by contextualizing the main ecological factors, including interactions with parasites, other types of biotic as well as abiotic interactions, intraspecific selective constraints (life-history trade-offs, sexual selection) and population genetic processes. We then elaborate the resulting immunological consequences such as the diversity of defence mechanisms (e.g. avoidance behaviour, resistance, tolerance), redundancy and protection against immunopathology, life-history integration of the immune response and shared immunity within a community (e.g. social immunity and microbiota-mediated protection). Our review summarizes the concepts of current importance and directs the reader to promising future research avenues that will deepen our understanding of the defence against parasites and pathogens.


Available from: Yannick Moret, Nov 24, 2014
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Immune systems are able to protect the body against secondary infection with the same parasite. In insect colonies, this protection is not restricted to the level of the individual organism, but also occurs at the societal level. Here, we review recent evidence for and insights into the mechanisms underlying individual and social immunisation in insects. We disentangle general immune-protective effects from specific immune memory (priming), and examine immunisation in the context of the lifetime of an individual and that of a colony, and of transgenerational immunisation that benefits offspring. When appropriate, we discuss parallels with disease defence strategies in human societies. We propose that recurrent parasitic threats have shaped the evolution of both the individual immune systems and colony-level social immunity in insects.
    Trends in Immunology 09/2014; 35(10). DOI:10.1016/ · 12.03 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The immune defence of an organism is evolving continuously, causing counteradaptations in interacting species, which in turn affect other ecological and evolutionary processes. Until recently comparative studies of species interactions and immunity, combining information from both ecological and immunological fields, have been rare. The cellular immune defense in insects, mainly mediated by circulating hemocytes, has been studied primarily in Lepidoptera and Diptera, whereas corresponding information about coleopteran species is still scarce. In the study presented here, we used two closely related chrysomelids, Galerucella pusilla and G. calmariensis (Coleoptera), both attacked by the same parasitoid, Asecodes parviclava (Hymenoptera). In order to investigate the structure of the immune system in Galerucella and to detect possible differences between the two species, we combined ecological studies with controlled parasitism experiments, followed by an investigation of the cell composition in the larval hemolymph. We found a striking difference in parasitism rate between the species, as well as in the level of successful immune response (i.e. encapsulation and melanisation of parasitoid eggs), with G. pusilla showing a much more potent immune defense than G. calmariensis. These differences were linked to differences in the larval cell composition, where hemocyte subsets in both naïve and parasitised individuals differed significantly between the species. In particular, the hemocytes shown to be active in the encapsulation process; phagocytes, lamellocytes and granulocytes, differ between the species, indicating that the cell composition reflects the ability to defend against the parasitoid.
    PLoS ONE 09/2014; 9(9):e108795. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0108795 · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Trans-generational immune priming (TGIP) describes the transfer of immune stimulation to the next generation. As stress and immunity are closely connected, we here address the question whether trans-generational effects on immunity and resistance can also be elicited by a nonpathogen stress treatment of parents. General stressors have been shown to induce immunity to pathogens within individuals. However, to our knowledge, it is as of yet unknown whether stress can also induce trans-generational effects on immunity and resistance. We exposed a parental generation (mothers, fathers, or both parents) of the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum, a species where TGIP has been previously been demonstrated, to either a brief heat or cold shock and examined offspring survival after bacterial infection with the entomopathogen Bacillus thuringiensis. We also studied phenoloxidase activity, a key enzyme of the insect innate immune system that has previously been demonstrated to be up-regulated upon TGIP. We quantified parental fecundity and offspring developmental time to evaluate whether trans-generational priming might have costs. Offspring resistance was found to be significantly increased when both parents received a cold shock. Offspring phenoloxidase activity was also higher when mothers or both parents were cold-shocked. By contrast, parental heat shock reduced offspring phenoloxidase activity. Moreover, parental cold or heat shock delayed offspring development. In sum, we conclude that trans-generational priming for resistance could not only be elicited by pathogens or pathogen-derived components, but also by more general cues that are indicative of a stressful environment. The interaction between stress responses and the immune system might play an important role also for trans-generational effects.
    Ecology and Evolution 02/2015; 5(6). DOI:10.1002/ece3.1443 · 1.66 Impact Factor