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Science 303 (5665): 1873-1876

Copyright © 2004 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Genetic Basis of Natural Variation in D. melanogaster Antibacterial Immunity

Brian P. Lazzaro,1* Bonnielin K. Sceurman,2 Andrew G. Clark3

Abstract: Many genes involved in Drosophila melanogaster innate immune processes have been identified, but whether naturally occurring polymorphism in these genes leads to variation in immune competence among wild flies has not been tested. We report here substantial variability among wild-derived D. melanogaster in the ability to suppress infection by a Gram-negative entomopathogen, Serratia marcescens. Variability in immune competence was significantly associated with nucleotide polymorphism in 16 innate immunity genes, corresponding primarily to pathogen recognition and intracellular signaling loci, and substantial epistasis was detected between intracellular signaling and antimicrobial peptide genes. Variation in these genes, therefore, seems to drive variability in immunocompetence among wild Drosophila.

1 Department of Entomology, 4138 Comstock Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
2 Laboratory of Biochemistry and Genetics, NIDDK, National Institutes of Health, Building 8, Room 323, 8 Center Drive MSC 0840, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
3 Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, 107 Biotechnology Building, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed: bl89{at}

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