Female and male Drosophila melanogaster next to a patch of mould
Sex & immunity
Immune defence and reproduction are tightly linked with each another, for example a pathogen infection can alter host life history strategies resulting in immunity being traded off against offspring production. Furthermore, mating can activate immune defences: it introduces non-self elements e.g. sperm or seminal fluid proteins into the female, and also increases the risk to both sexes of encountering foreign entities such as sexually transmitted diseases. Both examples have the potential to activate immune defences, but it is not clear whether this is a result of sexual- or natural-selection: this question is the basis of Sergio Ávila’s PhD project, using Drosophila melanogaster as a model. Sergio is co-supervised by Claudia Fricke.