Different defense strategies of Dendrolimus pini, Galleria mellonella, and Calliphora vicina against fungal infection

M I Boguś, E Kedra, J Bania, M Szczepanik, M Czygier, P Jabłoński, A Pasztaleniec, J Samborski, J Mazgajska, A Polanowski
Journal of Insect Physiology 2007, 53 (9): 909-22
The resistance of Galleria mellonella, Dendrolimus pini, and Calliphora vicina larvae against infection by the enthomopathogen Conidiobolus coronatus was shown to vary among the studied species. Exposure of both G. mellonella and D. pini larvae to the fungus resulted in rapid insect death, while all the C. vicina larvae remained unharmed. Microscopic studies revealed diverse responses of the three species to the fungal pathogen: (1) the body cavities of D. pini larvae were completely overgrown by fungal hyphae, with no signs of hemocyte response, (2) infected G. mellonella larvae formed melanotic capsules surrounding the fungal pathogen, and (3) the conidia of C. coronatus did not germinate on the cuticle of C. vicina larvae. The in vitro study on the degradation of the insect cuticle by proteases secreted by C. coronatus revealed that the G. mellonella cuticle degraded at the highest rate. The antiproteolytic capacities of insect hemolymph against fungal proteases correlated well with the insects' susceptibility to fungal infection. The antiproteolytic capacities of insect hemolymph against fungal proteases correlated well with the insects' susceptibility to fungal infection. Of all the tested species, only plasmatocytes exhibited phagocytic potential. Exposure to the fungal pathogen resulted in elevated phagocytic activity, found to be the highest in the infected G. mellonella. The incubation of insect hemolymph with fungal conidia and hyphae revealed diverse reactions of hemocytes of the studied insect species. The encapsulation potential of D. pini hemocytes was low. Hemocytes of G. mellonella showed a high ability to attach and encapsulate fungal structures. Incubation of C. vicina hemolymph with C. coronatus did not result in any hemocytic response. Phenoloxidase (PO) activity was found to be highest in D. pini hemolymph, moderate in G. mellonella, and lowest in the hemolymph of C. vicina. Fungal infection resulted in a significant decrease of PO activity in G. mellonela larvae, while that in the larvae of D. pini remained unchanged. PO activity in C. vicina exposed to fungus slightly increased. The lysozyme-like activity increased in the plasma of all three insect species after contact with the fungal pathogen. Anti E. coli activity was detected neither in control nor in infected D. pini larvae. No detectable anti E. coli activity was found in the control larvae of G. mellonella; however, its exposure to C. coronatus resulted in an increase in the activity to detectable level. In the case of C. vicina exposure to the fungus, the anti E. coli activity was significantly higher than in control larvae. The defense mechanisms of D. pini (species of economic importance in Europe) are presented for the first time.

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