Immune response can be negatively affected by resource limitation, so it is expected that organisms evolve strategies to minimize the impact of this environmental outcome. Phenotypic plasticity in immune response could represent a genetic response to face such situations. We investigated the effects of high and low quality and quantity of food at the larval stage on two important immune components, phenoloxidase activity (PO) and nitric oxide production (NO) measured in adults of the Dengue vector, Aedes aegypti. We reared families to determine the magnitude and pattern of expression of genetic variance, environmental variance and genotype-by-environment interaction (GEI). In addition, we quantified whether there were differences in plastic immune responses in both sexes. Our results indicated additive variance for PO and NO, but rearing environment did not produce differences among individuals. For NO and PO in males, there were large differences among families in plasticity, as indicated by the different slopes produced by each reaction norm. Therefore, there is additive genetic variation in plasticity for NO production and PO activity. One possible interpretation of these results is that different genotypes may be favored to fight pathogens under the different food quality situations. Males and females showed similar overall GEI strategies but there were differences in PO and NO. Males showed a phenotypic correlation between PO and NO, but we did not find genetic correlations between immune parameters in both sexes.
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Vol. 47 • No. 2