Sex And Immunity

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. In collaboration with Claudia Fricke we found that antimicrobial peptide expression was significantly up-regulated after mating, and that genotypic interactions affect mating and post-mating reproductive traits. We are now examining the role of a candidate gene in immunity and mating.