The host defense of Drosophila melanogaster

Annu Rev Immunol. 2007;25:697-743. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.25.022106.141615.


To combat infection, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster relies on multiple innate defense reactions, many of which are shared with higher organisms. These reactions include the use of physical barriers together with local and systemic immune responses. First, epithelia, such as those beneath the cuticle, in the alimentary tract, and in tracheae, act both as a physical barrier and local defense against pathogens by producing antimicrobial peptides and reactive oxygen species. Second, specialized hemocytes participate in phagocytosis and encapsulation of foreign intruders in the hemolymph. Finally, the fat body, a functional equivalent of the mammalian liver, produces humoral response molecules including antimicrobial peptides. Here we review our current knowledge of the molecular mechanisms underlying Drosophila defense reactions together with strategies evolved by pathogens to evade them.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / immunology
  • Biological Evolution
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / immunology*
  • Fat Body / immunology*
  • Hemocytes / immunology*
  • Hemolymph / immunology*
  • Phagocytosis / immunology*


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides