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Dev Comp Immunol. 2000 Jan;24(1):1-12.

Gender differences and individual variation in the immune system of the scorpionfly Panorpa vulgaris (Insecta: Mecoptera).

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  • 1Institut für Evolutionsbiologie und Okologie, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, An der Immenburg 1, D-53121, Bonn, Germany.


From investigations of the vertebrate immune system gender specific differences in individual immunocompetence are well known. In general, females seem to possess more powerful immune systems than males. In invertebrates, the situation is much less clear. Therefore, we investigated the immune system of an invertebrate species, the scorpionfly Panorpa vulgaris. We found a high degree of individual variation in both traits studied, the lysozyme-like antibacterial activity of hemolymph and the capacity for in vitro phagocytosis of artificial particles. These two immune traits were positively correlated. As expected, hemolymph derived from females had higher lysozyme-like activity and hemocytes from females phagocytosed more particles. The difference in phagocytosis was mainly based on higher total hemocyte counts and higher proportions of phagocytically active cells in females, while the average number of ingested particles per active phagocyte was not significantly different. The observed gender differences are discussed in the context of reproductive strategies and parasite-mediated sexual selection.

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