Insights from natural host-parasite interactions: the Drosophila model

Dev Comp Immunol. 2014 Jan;42(1):111-23. doi: 10.1016/j.dci.2013.06.001. Epub 2013 Jun 10.


Immune responses against opportunistic pathogens have been extensively studied in Drosophila, leading to a detailed map of the genetics behind innate immunity networks including the Toll, Imd, Jak-Stat, and JNK pathways. However, immune mechanisms of other organisms, such as plants, have primarily been investigated using natural pathogens. It was the use of natural pathogens in plant research that revealed the plant R-Avr system, a specialized immune response derived from antagonistic coevolution between plant immune proteins and their natural pathogens' virulence proteins. Thus, we recommend that researchers begin to use natural Drosophila pathogens to identify novel immune strategies that may have arisen through antagonistic coevolution with common natural pathogens. In this review, we address the benefits of using natural pathogens in research, describe the known natural pathogens of Drosophila, and discuss the future prospects for research on natural pathogens of Drosophila.

Keywords: Coevolution; Drosophila immunity; Natural pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Drosophila melanogaster / immunology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / parasitology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions* / genetics
  • Host-Parasite Interactions* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics
  • Models, Animal
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / immunology*
  • Opportunistic Infections / immunology*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / immunology*
  • Plants / immunology
  • Symbiosis
  • Virulence Factors / genetics
  • Virulence Factors / immunology*


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • R protein, Zea mays
  • Virulence Factors