To investigate the evolutionary cost of an immune response, we selected six lines of the mosquito Aedes aegypti for earlier or later pupation and measured the extent to which this selection procedure changed the mosquito's ability to encapsulate and melanize a negatively charged Sephadex bead. After 10 generations of selection, the age at pupation in the two selection regimes differed by about 0.7 days, accompanied by an increase of wing length of the mosquitoes selected for late pupation. Among the mosquitoes that had been selected for early pupation, only 6% had strongly or completely melanized the bead, while among the individuals that had been selected for late pupation, 32% had melanized the bead. Thus, our results suggest a genetic correlation between age at pupation and immunocompetence. As a consequence, mosquitoes that respond to increased intense parasite pressure with more effective immunity are predicted to pay for the increased defense with slower development.
Corresponding Editor: J. Conner