Hemolymph melanization and alterations in hemocyte numbers in Lymantria dispar larvae following infections with different entomopathogenic microsporidia

Gernot Hoch, Leellen F Solter, Axel Schopf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Lymantria dispar (L.) (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae) larvae can be infected in the laboratory with a variety of entomopathogenic microsporidia. In many cases, however, L. dispar is only a semi-permissive host for such infections. In this study, we analyzed changes in the melanization of hemolymph and hemocyte numbers in L. dispar larvae after inoculation with various entomopathogenic microsporidia. We compared the infections produced by microsporidia isolated from L, dispar and infections produced by isolates from other Lepidoptera to which L. dispar is only a semi-permissive host. Microsporidiosis induced a significant activation of the prophenoloxidase system leading to melanization; activation was highest when the pathogen caused heavy infections of the fat body, which was the case with two microsporidia originally isolated from L. dispar. Infection of only the silk glands or light infection of the fat body by two Vairimorpha spp. from other lepidopteran hosts elicited a lower response. Very light infections caused by a microsporidium isolated from Malacosoma americanum were not accompanied by elevated hemolymph melanization activity. Heavy infections by Endoreticulatus spec. that remained restricted to the gut tissue likewise did not elicit melanization. One Vairimorpha spec. from L. dispar induced a significant increase in total hemocyte numbers; the other infections led to temporarily decreased numbers. Microscopic examinations showed that parts of infected tissue were encapsulated by hemocytes. We conclude that measured alterations in hemolymph melanization and hemocyte numbers were likely to be induced by the damaging effects of heavy infections. Observed defense responses did not prevent the progression of infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Volume113
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004

Keywords

  • Hemocytes
  • Hemolymph melanization
  • Immune response
  • Lepidoptera
  • Lymantria dispar
  • Lymantriidae
  • Microsporidia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science

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