The immune system of invertebrates can mount different responses, including melanotic encapsulation and several antibacterial defense mechanisms. Variation of the efficacies of these responses is generally considered to be a product of the evolutionary pressure on each response due to infection by parasites. However, potential interactions and trade-offs among the different responses of the immune system could constrain the evolutionary potential of each response. In a natural population of the mosquito Anopheles gambiae, we measured the genetic association between the melanization response and an antibacterial response in two environmental qualities (well-fed and undernourished larvae). In both environments the two immune responses were positively genetically correlated: in full-sib families that were most likely to melanize a bead, injected bacteria were most likely to be cleared. Thus, our data do not support the idea of a trade-off among different outcomes of the invertebrate immune system, but rather that some families are overall immunologically superior to others.
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Vol. 58 • No. 10