Evolutionary Ecology and Interplay of Prokaryotic Innate and Adaptive Immune Systems

Tatiana Dimitriu*, Mark D Szczelkun*, Edze R Westra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review (Academic Journal)peer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
79 Downloads (Pure)


Like many organisms, bacteria and archaea have both innate and adaptive immune systems to defend against infection by viruses and other parasites. Innate immunity most commonly relies on the endonuclease-mediated cleavage of any incoming DNA that lacks a specific epigenetic modification, through a system known as restriction–modification. CRISPR–Cas-mediated adaptive immunity relies on the insertion of short DNA sequences from parasite genomes into CRISPR arrays on the host genome to provide sequence-specific protection. The discovery of each of these systems has revolutionised our ability to carry out genetic manipulations, and, as a consequence, the enzymes involved have been characterised in exquisite detail. In comparison, much less is known about the importance of these two arms of the defence for the ecology and evolution of prokaryotes and their parasites. Here, we review our current ecological and evolutionary understanding of these systems in isolation, and discuss the need to study how innate and adaptive immune responses are integrated when they coexist in the same cell.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R1189-R1202
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number19
Early online date5 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Oct 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolutionary Ecology and Interplay of Prokaryotic Innate and Adaptive Immune Systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this