What is it about?

In insects, the developmental environment can shape the organism's biology for the rest of its life. Since mounting an immune response is a resource-intensive trait, general expectation from organisms growing in a resource-limited and competitive environments is that they would grow up to have inferior immune response than those who have developed in a resourceful developmental environment. This study shows that populations adapted to crowded larval environments for more than 240 generations show an improved evolved immune response against a gram-negative pathogen but not against a gram-positive pathogen.

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Why is it important?

The evolution of improved adult immunocompetence against gram-negative pathogens and not against gram-positive pathogen due to adaptation to crowded developmental environments show the possible correlation between developmental pathways and adult immune response pathways. This study warrants a much more detailed investigative study into the potential molecular mechanism in these pathways.


This study was part of a more significant project where we were trying to see the effects of adaptation to stressful developmental environments on the evolution of adult traits in populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Overall these studies show that despite of growing up in a poor developmental environment for several generations, populations can show selectively improved stress tolerance at no cost to the reproductive traits. This work has given an insight into the important but neglected territory of the evolution of adult traits in the populations adapted to the stressful developmental environment.

Rohit Kapila
Florida International University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Evolution of pathogen-specific improved survivorship post-infection in populations of Drosophila melanogaster adapted to larval crowding, PLoS ONE, April 2021, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0250055.
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