Trans-generational priming renders offspring of immune-challenged parents less susceptible to disease-induced mortality, and has been demonstrated in a variety of arthropod taxa under controlled laboratory conditions. However, relatively little is known about the applicability of these laboratory results to priming in wild populations, especially in the context of environmental variables like maternal co-infection and potential trade-offs with other life history traits. We performed nearly parallel trans-generational priming experiments on laboratory and wild strains of Tribolium beetles against the bacterial pathogen Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). We investigated the impact of maternal immune challenge on offspring survival and development time, as well as the correlation between development and survival by priming status. Furthermore, we manipulated wild beetle parental co-infection with a gregarine parasite that was prevalent in the wild population in order to determine the impact of co-infection on the efficacy of trans-generational priming. Trans-generational priming resulted in a large but birth order-dependent acceleration of offspring development time, and enhanced offspring survival against infection, in both laboratory and wild populations. However, adult parental co-infection with gut protozoa severely curtailed primed offspring survival against Bt infection. These results suggest that shifts in life history traits associated with trans-generational priming in laboratory model systems extend to wild populations. These traits, including survival, development, and interference from co-infection, are important parameters for predicting the impact of priming on disease dynamics in the wild.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Bacillus thuringiensis
- Life history trade-offs