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PhD defence

Innate immunity, developmental speed and their trade-offs in two hexapod models

  • S. Cheng
Tuesday 28 November 2023
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof.dr. H. P. Spaink
  • dr. M. van der Zee


This thesis focuses on important life history traits and their trade-offs using two hexapod models. Particularly, the trade-off between immune defense and embryonic developmental speed is a central theme of this study. In short, I study the details of immune defenses during embryonic development of basal hexapods in Chapter 2, the trade-off with developmental speed in Chapter 3, and the genetic basis of developmental speed in Chapter 4, using selection lines of the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum.
I demonstrate that 1) springtail eggs do show an immune response, despite absence of a serosa that provides immune protection to insect eggs; 2) a strong trade-off is present between developmental speed and fecundity in the selection lines of the beetle T. castaneum; and 3) a life-history allele of large effect shortens developmental time in this wild insect population. I suggest that such alleles of large effect play a crucial role when insects have to adapt their developmental speed to current climate change.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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