Disentangling non-specific and specific transgenerational immune priming components in host-parasite interactions

Frida Ben-Ami, Christian Orlic, Roland R. Regoes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exposure to a pathogen primes many organisms to respond faster or more efficiently to subsequent exposures. Such priming can be non-specific or specific, and has been found to extend across generations. Disentangling and quantifying specific and non-specific effects is essential for understanding the genetic epidemiology of a system. By combining a large infection experiment and mathematical modelling, we disentangle different transgenerational effects in the crustacean model Daphnia magna exposed to different strains of the bacterial parasite Pasteuria ramosa. In the experiment, we exposed hosts to a high dose of one of three parasite strains, and subsequently challenged their offspring with multiple doses of the same (homologous) or a different (heterologous) strain. We find that exposure of Daphnia to Pasteuria decreases the susceptibility of their offspring by approximately 50%. This transgenerational protection is not larger for homologous than for heterologous parasite challenges. Methodologically, our work represents an important contribution not only to the analysis of immune priming in ecological systems but also to the experimental assessment of vaccines. We present, for the first time, an inference framework to investigate specific and non-specific effects of immune priming on the susceptibility distribution of hosts-effects that are central to understanding immunity and the effect of vaccines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20192386
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1920
StatePublished - 12 Feb 2020


  • Daphnia magna
  • Host heterogeneity
  • Immune priming
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Pasteuria ramosa
  • Trained immunity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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