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Summary

All metazoans have evolved means to protect themselves from threats present in the environment: injuries, viruses, fungi, bacteria and other parasites. Insect protection includes innate physical barriers and both cellular and humoral responses. The insect innate immune response, best characterized in Drosophila melanogaster, is a rapid broad response, triggered by pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) recognition, which produces a limited range of effectors that does not alter upon continued pathogen exposure and lacks immunological memory. The Drosophila response, particularly its humoral response, has been investigated by both low and high-throughput methods. Three signalling pathways conserved between insects and mammals have been implicated in this response: Toll (equivalent to mammalian TLR), Imd (equivalent to TNFα) and Hop (equivalent to JAK/STAT). This review provides an entry point to the insect immune system literature outlining the main themes in D. melanogaster bacterial pathogen detection and humoral and cellular immune responses. The Drosophila immune response is compared with other insects and the mammalian immune system.