Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Biol Sci. 2009 Jul 22;276(1667):2617-24. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0323. Epub 2009 Apr 15.

Dietary-dependent trans-generational immune priming in an insect herbivore.

Author information

  • 1Department of Entomology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knoell-Strasse-8, 07745 Jena, Germany.


Trans-generational effects on immunity are well known in vertebrates and are considered in many evolutionary and ecological theories of species interaction. Maternal effects have been identified to be of special importance, and are now recognized as a mechanism for adaptive phenotypic response to environmental heterogeneity. We have previously shown that exposure to dietary non-pathogenic bacteria can induce several aspects of immune response in an insect herbivore, the cabbage semilooper (Trichoplusia ni). Here, we test the effects of this exposure on the immune status of the next generation, measuring immune parameters on three different levels-enzyme activities, protein expression and transcript abundance. We also monitored fitness-related traits which are often negatively correlated with increased immunocompetence. We found evidence for trans-generational priming on all these levels, with immune system parameters that are clearly not transmitted in a 1 : 1 ratio from parent to offspring, but rather in a complex manner with a strong but not exclusive maternal component. These findings indicate that trans-generational priming is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, potentially playing a role as a long-term but non-genetic mode of environmental adaptation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center