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. Apr-Jun 2009;3(2):143-50.
doi: 10.4161/fly.8051. Epub 2009 Apr 1.

Cross-generational Fitness Effects of Infection in Drosophila Melanogaster

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Free PMC article

Cross-generational Fitness Effects of Infection in Drosophila Melanogaster

Jodell E Linder et al. Fly (Austin). .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Activation of the immune system is beneficial in defending against pathogens, but may also have costly side effects on an organism's fitness. In this study we examine the fitness consequences of immune challenge in female Drosophila melanogaster by examining both direct (within generation) and indirect (between generations) costs and benefits of immune challenge. Though passing immunity to offspring has been studied in mammals for many years, only recently have researchers found evidence for a cross-generational priming response in invertebrates. By examining both potential fitness costs and benefits in the next generation, we were able to determine what effect immune challenge has on fitness. In agreement with other studies, we found a direct cost to infection, where immune challenged females laid fewer eggs than unchallenged females in two of the three lines we examined. In addition, we found some evidence for indirect costs. Offspring from immune challenged mothers had shorter lifespans than those from unchallenged mothers in two of the three lines. Interestingly, we do not see any effect of maternal immune challenge on offspring's ability to overcome an infection, nor do we see an effect on other fitness traits measured, including egg size, egg-adult viability and offspring resistance to oxidative stress. While previous studies in bumblebees and beetles have demonstrated cross-generation priming, our results suggest that it may not be a general phenomenon, and more work is needed to determine how widespread it is.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Average fecundity (+1 S.E.) of singleton females after 24 hours, by replicate. Offspring number was significantly higher in naïve flies compared to LL and PA flies in the GAo lines (A), and fecundity was higher in sham-injected flies compared to PA and LL as well as higher in naïve compared to LL flies in IR 57 lines (C). No differences were seen among the treatments for the IR 56 (B) lines. Means of the three replicates are shown as open circles.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Survival curves for GAo (A), IR 56 (B) and IR 57 (C) offspring derived from females exposed to each of the four treatments. A proportional hazards model showed significant differences between treatments for all three lines. After pair-wise comparisons, we find that offspring from naïve females live significantly longer than offspring from LL infected females for GAo and a marginally significant effect for IR 57, where offspring derived from sham mothers survived longer than offspring derived form PA infected mothers. We find the opposite effect in IR 56, where flies from LL mothers live longer than those from naïve mothers.

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