This editorial introduces the seven articles that comprise the Parasite Immunology special issue on the Evolutionary Biology of Host Defence. The rationale for an evolutionary approach to immunoparasitology is briefly outlined, and then the articles are placed in that broader context. A central aim of each article is to explain the generation and maintenance of immunological heterogeneity among hosts in nature. The authors describe new tools and approaches that enable unprecedented insight into evolutionary and immunological processes in both the laboratory and the wild. The examples discussed include insects, birds and mammals (as hosts) and trypanosomes, apicomplexans and nematodes (as parasites).
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