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Evolution. 2004 Oct;58(10):2377-81.

Genetic correlation between melanization and antibacterial immune responses in a natural population of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Parasitologie Evolutive, CNRS UMR 7103, Universit√© Pierre and Marie Curie, CC237, 7 quai St Bernard, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France.


The immune system of invertebrates can mount different responses, including melanotic encapsulation and several antibacterial defense mechanisms. Variation of the efficacies of these responses is generally considered to be a product of the evolutionary pressure on each response due to infection by parasites. However, potential interactions and trade-offs among the different responses of the immune system could constrain the evolutionary potential of each response. In a natural population of the mosquito Anopheles gambiae, we measured the genetic association between the melanization response and an antibacterial response in two environmental qualities (well-fed and undernourished larvae). In both environments the two immune responses were positively genetically correlated: in full-sib families that were most likely to melanize a bead, injected bacteria were most likely to be cleared. Thus, our data do not support the idea of a trade-off among different outcomes of the invertebrate immune system, but rather that some families are overall immunologically superior to others.

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