OPEN Toxins | 11 Jul 2018
Toxins are a major virulence factor produced by many pathogenic bacteria. In vertebrates, the response of hosts to the bacteria is inseparable from the response to the toxins, allowing a comprehensive understanding of this tripartite host-pathogen-toxin interaction. However, in invertebrates, this interaction has been investigated by two complementary but historically distinct fields of research: toxinology and immunology. In this article, I highlight how such dichotomy between these two fields led to a biased, or even erroneous view of the ecology and evolution of the interaction between insects, toxins, and bacteria. I focus on the reason behind such a dichotomy, on how to bridge the fields together, and on confounding effects that could bias the outcome of the experiments. Finally, I raise four questions at the border of the two fields on the cross-effects between toxins, bacteria, and spores that have been largely underexplored to promote a more comprehensive view of this interaction.
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