Immune anticipation of mating in Drosophila: Turandot M promotes immunity against sexually transmitted fungal infections

Weihao Zhong, Colin D. McClure, Cara R. Evans, David T. Mlynski, Elina Immonen, Michael Gordon Ritchie, Nicholas K. Priest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Although it is well known that mating increases the risk of infection, we do not know how females mitigate the fitness costs of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It has recently been shown that female fruitflies, Drosophila melanogaster, specifically upregulate two members of the Turandot family of immune and stress response genes, Turandot M and Turandot C (TotM and TotC), when they hear male courtship song. Here, we use the Gal4/UAS RNAi gene knockdown system to test whether the expression of these genes provides fitness benefits for females infected with the entomopathogenic fungus, Metarhizium robertsii under sexual transmission. As a control, we also examined the immunity conferred by Dorsal-related immunity factor (Dif), a central component of the Toll signalling pathway thought to provide immunity against fungal infections. We show that TotM, but not TotC or Dif, provides survival benefits to females following STIs, but not after direct topical infections. We also show that though the expression of TotM provides fecundity benefits for healthy females, it comes at a cost to their survival, which helps to explain why TotM is not constitutively expressed. Together, these results show that the anticipatory expression of TotM promotes specific immunity against fungal STIs and suggest that immune anticipation is more common than currently appreciated.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20132018
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1773
Early online date30 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Immune anticipation
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Ecological immunology
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Metarhizium robertsii
  • Innate imunity


Dive into the research topics of 'Immune anticipation of mating in Drosophila: Turandot M promotes immunity against sexually transmitted fungal infections'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this