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Trends Ecol Evol. 2014 Nov;29(11):625-34. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2014.09.002. Epub 2014 Sep 30.

Unifying external and internal immune defences.

Author information

1
Animal Population Ecology, Animal Ecology I, Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER), University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany.
2
Animal Population Ecology, Animal Ecology I, Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER), University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany. Electronic address: feldhaar@uni-bayreuth.de.

Abstract

External immune defence, such as antimicrobial secretions, is not generally viewed as part of the immune system. Nevertheless, it constitutes a first barrier to pathogens and manipulates the microbial environment. Hygienic measures from the protection of oneself or conspecifics, of the nesting site, or of stored food might be more efficient with secreted antimicrobials. Here, we argue that antimicrobial secretions represent an extended arm of the immune system, forming an underappreciated selective force in the evolution of immune systems. Integrating external immunity into the immune system and general host physiology provides an amenable concept for the understanding of immune system variation and life-history trade-offs. Future research should evaluate complementary or additive roles of antimicrobial secretions in relation to internal immunity.

KEYWORDS:

antimicrobial peptides; ecological immunology; immune defence strategies; symbionts; venom

PMID:
25278329
DOI:
10.1016/j.tree.2014.09.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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