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Access to the article is free, however registration and sign-in are required. Insects use a variety of strategies to fight pathogens at different stages of infection, which may guide antimicrobial development for human use.Two recent studies have quietly and subversively broken the models we've used to describe insect immunity. Impressively, they've accomplished this by using gross observational studies rather than mechanistic approaches. Haine et al. suggest that what we've considered the central pillar of insect immunity--antimicrobial peptides--may perform a "mopping up" role in clearing pathogens. Hedges et al. show that heritable epigenetic properties can have as large an impact on insect immunity as any genetically encoded pathway yet tested. Both studies teach us important lessons about the way a host organism interacts with microbes and may have immediate practical applications.
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