Factors mediating short- and long-term immune suppression in a parasitized insect

Bruch A. Webe, Shirley Luckhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Suppression of the host immune response after parasitization is essential for the survival of many endoparasitic hymenoptera. In Heliothis virescens larvae parasitized by Campoletis sonorensis, factors have been isolated that rapidly and persistently suppress the immune response to parasite eggs. When C. sonorensis eggs are washed to remove protective factors from the female reproductive tract, H. virescens larvae encapsulate many of the eggs within 3 h. Ovarian proteins are introduced with the parasite egg and rapidly but transiently alter hemocyte morphology and disable the immune response. Campoletis sonorensis polydnavirus (CsPDV) is also introduced during parasitization and disrupts hemocyte morphology at 24 h and encapsulation at later times (Edson et al., 1981). However, CsPDV-encoded proteins are not detected before 5-6 h after parasitization and hemocyte morphology is not altered at 3 h after virus injection. Therefore, it is unlikely that CsPDV protects parasite eggs from encapsulation in the early stages after parasitization. We hypothesize that in parasitized insects, the rapid short-term immunosuppressive activity of ovarian proteins complements the slower, long-term immune suppression that is provided by CsPDV following infection of host cells and expression of functionally active viral genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Campoletis sonorensis
  • Heliothis virescens insect immunity
  • Parasitoid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Physiology


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