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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Sexual activity increases resistance against Pseudomonas entomophila in male Drosophila melanogaster

Vanika Gupta, Zeeshan S Ali and Nagaraj G Prasad*

Author Affiliations

Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, India

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2013, 13:185  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-185

Published: 6 September 2013

Abstract

Background

Maintenance and deployment cost of immunity is high, therefore, it is expected to trade-off with other high cost traits like sexual activity. Previous studies with Drosophila melanogaster show that male’s ability to clear bacteria decreases with increase in sexual activity. We subjected this idea to test using two pathogens (Pseudomonas entomophila and Staphylococcus succinus) and three different populations of Drosophila melanogaster.

Results

We found that sexual activity enhanced male survivorship in a pathogen specific manner. Sexually active males show higher resistance than virgins upon infection with Pseudomonas entomophila. Interestingly, the beneficial effects of sexual activity increased with time of co-habitation with females and declined when access to females was restricted. We observed no change in male survivorship upon experimentally varying the number of sexual interactions.

Conclusion

Our results show that the sexual activity-immunity trade-off in males cannot be generalised. The trade-off is potentially mediated through complex interactions between the host, pathogen and the environment experienced by the host.

Keywords:
Trade-offs; P. entomophila; S. succinus; Resistance