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Interplay between thermal and immune ecology: Effect of environmental temperature on insect immune response and energetic costs after an immune challenge

Catalán, Tamara P., Wozniak, Aniela, Niemeyer, Hermann M., Kalergis, Alexis M., Bozinovic, Francisco
Journal of insect physiology 2012 v.58 no.3 pp. 310-317
Tenebrio molitor, ambient temperature, animals, antibacterial properties, ecology, immune response, insects, larvae, lipopolysaccharides, monophenol monooxygenase, thermoregulation
Although the study of thermoregulation in insects has shown that infected animals tend to prefer higher temperatures than healthy individuals, the immune response and energetic consequences of this preference remain unknown. We examined the effect of environmental temperature and the energetic costs associated to the activation of the immune response of Tenebrio molitor larvae following a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge. We measured the effect of temperature on immune parameters including phenoloxidase (PO) activity and antibacterial responses. Further as proximal and distal costs of the immune response we determined the standard metabolic rate (SMR) and the loss of body mass (mb), respectively. Immune response was stronger at 30°C than was at 10 or 20°C. While SMR at 10 and 20°C did not differ between immune treatments, at 30°C SMR of LPS-treated larvae was almost 25–60% higher than SMR of PBS-treated and naïve larvae. In addition, the loss in mb was 1.9 and 4.2 times higher in LPS-treated larvae than in PBS-treated and naïve controls. The immune responses exhibited a positive correlation with temperature and both, SMR and mb change, were sensitive to environmental temperature. These data suggest a significant effect of environmental temperature on the immune response and on the energetic costs of immunity.