The costs and benefits of basal infection resistance vs immune priming responses in an insect

Dev Comp Immunol. 2022 Jan;126:104261. doi: 10.1016/j.dci.2021.104261. Epub 2021 Sep 16.

Abstract

In insects, basal pathogen resistance and immune priming can evolve as mutually exclusive strategies, with distinct infection outcomes. However, the evolutionary drivers of such diverse immune functions remain poorly understood. Here, we addressed this key issue by systematically analyzing the differential fitness costs and benefits of priming vs resistance evolution in Tribolium beetle populations infected with Bacillus thuringiensis. Surprisingly, resistant beetles had increased post-infection reproduction and a longer lifespan under both starving as well as fed conditions, with no other measurable costs. In contrast, priming reduced offspring early survival, development rate and reproduction. Priming did improve post-infection survival of offspring, but this added trans-generational benefit of immune priming might not compensate for its pervasive costs. Resistance was thus consistently more beneficial. Overall, our work demonstrates the evolutionary change in trans-generational priming response, and provides a detailed comparison of the complex fitness consequences of evolved priming vs resistance.

Keywords: Bacillus thuringiensis; Evolutionary costs; Immune priming; Pathogen selection; Tribolium castaneum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacillus thuringiensis* / physiology
  • Bacterial Infections*
  • Coleoptera*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Tribolium*