Genetic variation in Drosophila melanogaster pathogen susceptibility
Genetic variation in susceptibility to pathogens is a central concern both to evolutionary and medical biologists, and for the implementation of biological control programmes. We have investigated the extent of such variation in Drosophila melanogaster, a major model organism for immunological research. We found that within populations, different Drosophila genotypes show wide-ranging variation in their ability to survive infection with the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. Furthermore, striking divergence in susceptibility has occurred between genotypes from temperate and tropical African locations. We hypothesize that this may have been driven by adaptation to local differences in pathogen exposure or host ecology. Genetic variation within populations may be maintained by temporal or spatial variation in the costs and benefits of pathogen defence. Insect pathogens are employed widely as biological control agents and entomopathogenic fungi are currently being developed for reducing malaria transmission by mosquitoes. Our data highlight the need for concern about resistance evolution to these novel biopesticides in vector populations.(Received October 28 2005)
(Revised December 26 2005)
(Accepted January 3 2006)
(February 24 2006)
Key Words: Drosophila melanogaster; Beauveria bassiana; immunity; genetic variation; malaria; resistance evolution.
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