Alternative measures of response to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in Drosophila melanogaster

J Evol Biol. 2007 Mar;20(2):526-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2006.01267.x.


Studies of invertebrate immune defence often measure genetic variation either for the fitness cost of infection or for the ability of the host to clear the parasite. These studies assume that variation in measures of resistance is related to variation in fitness costs of infection. To test this assumption, we infected strains of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, with a pathogenic bacterium. We then measured the correlation between host bacterial load and the ability to survive infection. Despite the presence of genotypic variation for both traits, bacterial load and survival post-infection were not correlated. Our results support previous arguments that individual measures of immune function and the host's ability to survive infection may be decoupled. In light of these results, we suggest that the difference between tolerance and resistance to infection, a distinction commonly found in the plant literature, may also be of value in studies of invertebrate immunity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / immunology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / microbiology*
  • Genotype
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics
  • Immunity, Innate / physiology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology*