Host-pathogen interactions under multi-level selection

QueenEusocial insects pose ideal conditions for growth and spread of parasites because of the high density and close interactions within their societies. Despite facing similar epidemiological challenges as human societies, eusocial insects show an efficiency of immune defense that is yet unmatched by human societies.

Eusocial insects feature both individual and collective immune responses. Since parasites have to overcome both levels successfully, the selective pressure of host-parasite interactions is split to several levels, from individual genes to the whole society.

Our research focuses on the evolutionary implications of multilevel selection in host-parasite interactions. We revolve around five main areas: the role of genetic diversity in protecting insect socie­ties against parasites, individual and social immunity, prophylactic self-medication, and immunogenetics. We exam­ine these processes at several levels of organization from genes to individuals and societies, and investi­gate how evolutionary trade-offs influence individual or societal functions (metabolic prowess, somatic maintenance, and colony performance).

Host-parasite interactions under multi-level selection is a sub-project performed by within Team: ANTZZ in Helsinki.