The stimulation of immune responses is a common tool in invertebrate studies to examine the efficacy and the mechanisms of immunity. This stimulation is based on the injection of non-pathogenic particles into insects, as the particles will be detected by the immune system and will induce the production of immune effectors. We focus here on the stimulation of the melanization response in the mosquito Anopheles gambiae. The melanization response results in the encapsulation of foreign particles and parasites with a dark layer of melanin. To stimulate this response, mosquitoes are inoculated with beads in the thoracic cavity using microcapillary glass tubes. Then, after 24 hr, the mosquitoes are dissected to retrieve the beads. The degree of melanization of the bead is measured using image analysis software. Beads do not have the pathogenic effects of parasites, or their capacity to evade or suppress the immune response. These injections are a way to measure immune efficacy and the impact of immune stimulations on other life history traits, such as fecundity or longevity. It is not exactly the same as directly studying host-parasite interactions, but it is an interesting tool to study immunity and its evolutionary ecology.
- Host-Parasite Interactions