Mitochondrial background can explain variable costs of immune deployment

Megan A. M. Kutzer, Beth Cornish, Michael Jamieson, Olga Zawistowska, Katy M. Monteith, Pedro F. Vale*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Organismal health and survival depend on the ability to mount an effective immune response against infection. Yet immune defence may be energy-demanding, resulting in fitness costs if investment in immune function deprives other physiological processes of resources. While evidence of costly immunity resulting in reduced longevity and reproduction is common, the role of energy-producing mitochondria on the magnitude of these costs is unknown. Here we employed Drosophila melanogaster cybrid lines, where several mitochondrial genotypes (mitotypes) were introgressed onto a single nuclear genetic background, to explicitly test the role of mitochondrial variation on the costs of immune stimulation. We exposed female flies carrying one of nine distinct mitotypes to either a benign, heat-killed bacterial pathogen (stimulating immune deployment while avoiding pathology) or a sterile control and measured lifespan, fecundity, and locomotor activity. We observed mitotype-specific costs of immune stimulation and identified a positive genetic correlation between life span and the proportion of time cybrids spent moving while alive. Our results suggest that costs of immunity are highly variable depending on the mitochondrial genome, adding to a growing body of work highlighting the important role of mitochondrial variation in host-pathogen interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbervoae027
Pages (from-to)442-450
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number4
Early online date8 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2024


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