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Testing the effect of individual color morphology on immune response in bush-crickets


Åsa Berggren, Department of Ecology, PO Box 7044, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-75007 Uppsala, Sweden. Tel: +46 18 672344; fax: +46 18 672890; email:


Abstract  Despite the growing interest in how an individual's immune response is correlated to morphological and ecological factors, little empirical data has been available from wild insect populations. Many insects have different color morphs and exhibit differences in immune responses. Links are expected to exist between body colors and immune function in insects, because the same biochemical precursors involved in the immune response are responsible for melanin-based color markings. In this study, I assay the immune response of two different color morphs of 377 wild-caught bush-crickets, Metrioptera roeseli, from 20 populations by measuring individual encapsulation responses to a surgically implanted nylon monofilament. There was no difference between green and brown bush-cricket morphs (low melanin vs high melanin investment in cuticula color respectively) and their ability to mount an immune response to the implant. Further study is needed on the relationship between color morphology and immune response in wild insects, and whether trade-offs occur between factors during an insect's development phase and long-term health.