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Effects of inbreeding on potential and realized immune responses in Tenebrio molitor



Although numerous studies on vertebrates suggest that inbreeding reduces their resistance against parasites and pathogens, studies in insects have found contradictory evidence. In this study we tested the effect of 1 generation of brother–sister mating (inbreeding) on potential and realized immune responses and other life-history traits in Tenebrio molitor. We found that inbreeding reduced adult mass, pre-adult survival and increased development time, suggesting that inbreeding reduced the condition of the adults and thus potentially made them more susceptible to physiological stress. However, we found no significant effect of inbreeding on the potential immune response (encapsulation response), but inbreeding reduced the realized immune response (resistance against the entomopathogenic fungi, Beauveria bassiana). There was a significant family effect on encapsulation response, but no family effect on the resistance against the entomopathogenic fungi. Given that this latter trait showed significant inbreeding depression and that the sample size for the family-effect analysis was small it is likely that the lack of a significant family effect is due to reduced statistical power, rather than the lack of a heritable basis to the trait. Our study highlights the importance of using pathogens and parasites in immunoecological studies.


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*Corresponding author: Department of Biology, Section of Ecology, University of Turku, FIN-20014 Turku, Finland. E-mail:


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Effects of inbreeding on potential and realized immune responses in Tenebrio molitor



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