Contributions of immune responses to developmental resistance in Lymantria dispar challenged with baculovirus

James McNeil, Diana Cox-Foster, James Slavicek, Kelli Hoover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


How the innate immune system functions to defend insects from viruses is an emerging field of study. We examined the impact of melanized encapsulation, a component of innate immunity that integrates both cellular and humoral immune responses, on the success of the baculovirus Lymantria dispar multiple nucleocapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus (LdMNPV) in its host L. dispar. L. dispar exhibits midgut-based and systemic, age-dependent resistance to LdMNPV within the fourth instar; the LD50 in newly molted larvae is approximately 18-fold lower than in mid-instar larvae (48-72h post-molt). We examined the role of the immune system in systemic resistance by measuring differences in hemocyte immunoresponsiveness to foreign targets, hemolymph phenoloxidase (PO) and FAD-glucose dehydrogenase (GLD) activities, and melanization of infected tissue culture cells. Mid-instar larvae showed a higher degree of hemocyte immunoresponsiveness, greater potential PO activity (pro-PO) at the time the virus is escaping the midgut to enter the hemocoel (72h post-inoculation), greater GLD activity, and more targeted melanization of infected tissue, which correlate with reduced viral success in the host. These findings support the hypothesis that innate immune responses can play an important role in anti-viral defenses against baculoviruses and that the success of these defenses can be age-dependent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1177
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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