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Picture of the Day

Virus inhibits immune response of caterpillars and plants

Did you know that certain wasps suppress the immune systems of their caterpillar hosts so they can successfully raise their young within those hosts? Researchers have shown that in addition to suppressing caterpillar immune systems, wasps also suppress the defense mechanisms of the plants on which the caterpillars feed, which ensures that the caterpillars will continue to provide a suitable environment for the wasps' offspring. According to one of the researchers, a type of virus, called a polydnavirus, resides within the ovaries of the female wasps and, when injected into caterpillar hosts, is responsible for suppressing both the caterpillar immune response and the plant defense mechanism. Shown here: A larval parasitoid emerging from its caterpillar host.

Visit Website | Image credit: Gary Felton/Penn State