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Parental care influences social immunity in burying beetle larvae



  1. In this study, evidence is provided of social immunity in the offspring of a sub-social species, the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides.
  2. Nicrophorus vespilloides is a carrion breeder and, in a similar fashion to the adult beetles, the offspring produce exudates that exhibit lytic activity, which are used to coat the breeding resource. This strategy defends against the microbial community.
  3. The lytic activity in larval exudates declines as the brood develops, perhaps being most beneficial at the start of the breeding bout.
  4. Changing levels of parental care through widowing/orphaning affects lytic activity in the larval exudates, with levels decreasing in the absence of both parents.