The immune role of the arthropod exoskeleton
Keywords:invertebrates, immunity, cuticle defense, parasite, ecological immunology
The exoskeleton or cuticle of arthropods is an important feature that contributes to their great
success in colonising numerous habitats on earth. It has numerous functions among which to provide protection against parasites. Whereas often regarded as a simple physical barrier to the outside world, the immune protection of the cuticle is slightly more complex than that. Here, we provide an overview of the cuticle defensive traits against parasites and examine their variation as a response to parasitism. It appears that the cuticle is an efficient line of defense, which includes physical, biochemical and physiological defensive components that are potentially subject to genetic and plastic variation in response to parasitism. It also appears that the cuticle defense systems are relatively understudied despite it may determine for large part the success of parasitic attacks.