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Immunological function in marine invertebrates: Responses to environmental perturbation

Ellis, R.P., Parry, H., Spicer, J.I., Hutchinson, T.H., Pipe, R.K., Widdicombe, S.
Fish & shellfish immunology 2011 v.30 no.6 pp. 1209-1222
aquatic invertebrates, disease resistance, immune system, immunocompetence
The inception of ecological immunology has led to an increase in the number of studies investigating the impact of environmental stressors on host immune defence mechanisms. This in turn has led to an increased understanding of the importance of invertebrate groups for immunological research. This review discusses the advances made within marine invertebrate ecological immunology over the past decade. By demonstrating the environmental stressors tested, the immune parameters typically investigated, and the species that have received the greatest level of investigation, this review provides a critical assessment of the field of marine invertebrate ecological immunology. In highlighting the methodologies employed within this field, our current inability to understand the true ecological significance of any immune dysfunction caused by environmental stressors is outlined. Additionally, a number of examples are provided in which studies successfully demonstrate a measure of immunocompetence through alterations in disease resistance and organism survival to a realized pathogenic threat. Consequently, this review highlights the potential to advance our current understanding of the ecological and evolutionary significance of environmental stressor related immune dysfunction. Furthermore, the potential for the advancement of our understanding of the immune system of marine invertebrates, through the incorporation of newly emerging and novel molecular techniques, is emphasized.