Contrasting infection strategies in generalist and specialist wasp parasitoids of Drosophila melanogaster

Todd A. Schlenke, Jorge Morales, Shubha Govind, Andrew G. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although host-parasitoid interactions are becoming well characterized at the organismal and cellular levels, much remains to be understood of the molecular bases for the host immune response and the parasitoids' ability to defeat this immune response. Leptopilina boulardi and L. heterotoma, two closely related, highly infectious natural parasitoids of Drosophila melanogaster, appear to use very different infection strategies at the cellular level. Here, we further characterize cellular level differences in the infection characteristics of these two wasp species using newly derived, virulent inbred strains, and then use whole genome microarrays to compare the transcriptional response of Drosophila to each. While flies attacked by the melanogaster group specialist L. boulardi (strain Lb17) up-regulate numerous genes encoding proteolytic enzymes, components of the Toll and JAK/STAT pathways, and the melanization cascade as part of a combined cellular and humoral innate immune response, flies attacked by the generalist L. heterotoma (strain Lh14) do not appear to initiate an immune transcriptional response at the time points post-infection we assayed, perhaps due to the rapid venom-mediated lysis of host hemocytes (blood cells). Thus, the specialist parasitoid appears to invoke a full-blown immune response in the host, but suppresses and/or evades downstream components of this response. Given that activation of the host immune response likely depletes the energetic resources of the host, the specialist's infection strategy seems relatively disadvantageous. However, we uncover the mechanism for one potentially important fitness tradeoff of the generalist's highly immune suppressive infection strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1486-1501
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS pathogens
Volume3
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology

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