Immunosenescence and resistance to parasite infection in the honey bee, Apis mellifera

Roberts, Katherine E and Hughes, William (2014) Immunosenescence and resistance to parasite infection in the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 121. pp. 1-6. ISSN 0022-2011

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Immunosenescence, the systemic reduction of immune efficiency with age, is increasingly recognised as having important implications for host-parasite dynamics. Changes in the immune response can impact on the ability of an individual to resist or moderate parasite infection, depending on how and when it encounters a parasite challenge. Using the European honey bee Apis mellifera and its microsporidian parasite Nosema ceranae, we investigated the effects of host age on the ability to resist parasite infection and on baseline immunocompetence, assessed by quantifying constitutive (PO) and potential levels (PPO) of the phenoloxidase immune enzyme as general measures of immune function. There was a significant correlation between the level of general immune function and infection intensity, but not with survival, and changes in immune function with age correlated with the ability of individuals to resist parasite infection. Older individuals had better survival when challenged with a parasite than younger individuals, however they also had more intense infections and lower baseline immunocomptence. The ability of older individuals to have high infection intensities yet live longer, has potential consequences for parasite transmission. The results highlight the need to consider age in host-parasite studies and show the importance of choosing the correct measure when assaying invertebrate immunity.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: William Hughes
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2015 12:13
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2015 12:13
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