Diverse organisms like insects and mammals are now known to share many of molecular, cellular and developmental processes. A prominent example is the evolutionary conservation of innate immune system amongst the vertebrates and invertebrates. Insects rely solely on innate immune system, albeit recent studies on dipteran insect Drosophila melanogaster indicated the existence of systems with memory and adaptive ability. Due to the absence of adaptive immune system, insects provide an ideal model to study innate immune mechanisms of higher organisms. Innate immunity. referring to the first line of defense against microbial infections, comprises of humoral and cellular immune responses. Humoral immune responses include synthesis of antimicrobial peptides, and activation of the prophenoloxidase cascade leading to melanization; while cellular immune responses involve hemocytes in phagocytosis of microbes, nodule formation, and encapsulation of large pathogens.
Insect immunity has been studied with renewed interest in the past decade due to its close resemblance to mammalian innate immune systems. An understanding of insect immune mechanisms offers strategies to control spread of insect vector borne diseases in animals. In addition, an efficient management of insect pests of agricultural crops and disease resistance of beneficial insects can also be achieved via a thorough knowledge of its immune system. D. melanogaster has been widely investigated to study insect immune responses towards diverse pathogens like bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. However, lepidopteran immune mechanisms remain less understood. Our lab is interested in analyzing the immune responses of economically important silkmoth species particularly the domesticated silkmoth, Bombyx mori, and the Indian tasar wild silkmoth, Antheraea mylitta which are widely cultivated for silk. .
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Arunkumar KP, Tomar A, Daimon T, Shimada T and Nagaraju J (2008) WildSilkbase: An EST database of wild silkmoths. BMC Genomics 9: 33.
Gandhe AS, Arunkumar KP, John SH, Nagaraju J (2006) Analysis of bacteria-challenged wild silkmoth, Antheraea mylitta (Lepidoptera) transcriptome reveals potential immune genes. BMC Genomics 7:184.