The investigation of the immunogenic potential of commensal bacteria on the host immune system is one essential component when studying intestinal host-microbe interactions. It is well established that different commensals exhibit a different potential to stimulate the host intestinal immune system. Such investigations involve vertebrate animals, especially rodents. Since increasing ethical concerns are linked with experiments involving vertebrates, there is a high demand for invertebrate replacements models.
Here, we provide a Galleria mellonella oral administration model using commensal non-pathogenic bacteria and the possible assessment of the immunogenic potential of commensals on the G. mellonella immune system. We demonstrate that G. mellonella is a useful alternative invertebrate replacement model that allows the analysis of commensals with different immunogenic potential such as Bacteroides vulgatus and Escherichia coli. Interestingly, the bacteria exhibited no killing effect on the larvae, which is similar to mammals. The immune responses of G. mellonella were comparable with vertebrate innate immune responses and involve recognition of the bacteria and production of antimicrobial molecules. We propose that G. mellonella was able to restore previous microbiota balance, which is well known from healthy mammalian individuals. Although providing comparable innate immune responses in both G. mellonella and vertebrates, G. mellonella does not harbor an adaptive immune system. Since the investigated components of the innate immune system are evolutionary conserved, the model allows a prescreening and first analysis of bacterial immunogenic properties.