Conclusions

The evolutionary success of insects is largely attributed to their capacity to ward off a variety of pathogenic micro-organisms. Insect PRRs play a front-line, central role in this effective immune surveillance and defence. The insects' lack of hyper-somatic mutation and recombination mechanisms as a source of adaptability is made up for by other mechanisms, such as alternative splicing and perhaps also combinatorial interactions between different receptors. While these PRRs show specificity in their interactions and spectrum of activity, a great deal of redundancy also seems to exist. For example, several mosquito PRRs have been shown to be involved in the anti-Plasmodium defence, and it is unclear whether they operate together via the same mechanism or act independently. Future studies of the mechanistic attributes of pathogen recognition in insects will provide answers to this and other unanswered questions, and thereby elucidate the efficiency of the innate immune system in mounting broad but yet pathogen-specific responses.

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