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Expression of immunity and general condition in the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), in relation to origin and gender


Indrek Ots, Institute of Zoology and Hydrobiology, Tartu University, Vanemuise 46, Tartu, 51014 Estonia. Email:


In immunoecological studies, experimental effects usually explain a relatively small proportion of total variation observed in immune parameters, while the large amount of variation remains unexplained. It is crucial to be aware of such natural variation of immune parameters, which may overshadow the effects of the experiment. We examined factors responsible for variation in cellular immunity (estimated as hemocyte concentration) and general condition (estimated as fresh weight) in the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, originating from two neighboring potato fields, in a common garden experiment. Progeny of beetles collected from the “New” field, where potato was cultured for the first year, had significantly higher hemocyte concentration and fresh weight compared to individuals originating from the “Old” field, where potato had been cultured for several years. Furthermore, hemocyte concentration varied with respect to gender only in beetles originating from the New field, where males had a higher hemocyte concentration than females. No such sex differences were found in beetles originating from the Old field, suggesting that immune traits and general condition of insects originating from geographically close locations/populations may express different sources of variation. Therefore, generalization of immunity–life-history trade-offs based on one population/location should be treated with caution.